YEREVAN — Rescue crews recovered more bodies as they continued to search for survivors overnight at the site of a Yerevan market where a fireworks warehouse exploded causing a major fire on August 14.
Authorities said on Tuesday morning that the death toll had risen to 16.
In a Facebook post Minister of Emergency Situations Armen Pambukhchyan said that among the dead were also a child and a pregnant woman.
Officials added that at least 18 other people, including citizens of Iran and Russia, were still unaccounted for.
A least 12 more victims were being treated at local hospitals for their injuries. Officials said a total of 61 people had received treatment following the Sunday explosion and fire.
Officials late on Monday said the fire at the Surmalu market, about two kilometers south of the center of Armenia’s capital city, still had not been completely contained.
Emergencies Minister Armen Pambukhchyan told reporters last night that he could not confirm reports that rescuers had located a possible survivor under rubble.
“We do not confirm this information at the moment,” he said. “We are now carrying out search and rescue operations in this area, including using special equipment, that is, cameras.”
Pambukhchyan was earlier quoted as “almost” ruling out terrorism as a cause of the incident.
“Watching the footage of the explosion, we almost rule out such a theory [that a bomb had been planted], because first there was smoke, then fire covering some small area, then came an explosion,” he said. “Quite a large amount of explosive materials was stored there.”
The building surrounding the site of the blast and fire was initially still standing but very shaky, according to Deputy Emergency Situations Minister Davit Hambarian.