YEREVAN — Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has signed a decree declaring two days of national mourning on August 17-18 for the victims of a massive fire at a Yerevan market caused by a powerful explosion at a fireworks warehouse last Sunday.
Armenian authorities said at least 16 people, including a child and a pregnant woman, were killed in the explosion at the Surmalu shopping center, with another three persons still being unaccounted for as of Tuesday evening.
A total of 61 people were injured in the incident in which officials see no evidence of terrorism.
The Ministry of Emergency Situations said earlier on August 16 that the fire at the sprawling market just off the capital’s center had been contained, but rescuers continued to look for survivors or victims under the rubble of a partially collapsed three-story warehouse building that authorities say is shaky.
Earlier, it was reported that investigators are looking into a possible breach of fire-safety regulations, which the market’s manager denied in a brief telephone interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service today.
The Investigative Committee said that interrogations of survivors and eyewitnesses were underway, but said there were no suspects or accused at the moment as part of the criminal probe launched in connection with the incident.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan visited the scene of the search-and-rescue operations on Monday, but made no public statements immediately.
A number of Pashinyan’s political allies, however, have advocated a ban on the sale of fireworks in Armenia in the aftermath of the tragedy.