YEREVAN — At least 218 people died in the September 25 explosion and fire at a fuel depot in Nagorno-Karabakh, according to the latest official figures released by Armenian investigators on Friday.

The spokesman for the Investigative Committee, Gor Abrahamyan, said that it has still not identified three of the victims because of being unable to collect DNA samples from their presumed relatives.

Twenty-one other Karabakh Armenians, who may have been at the scene of the powerful explosion, remain unaccounted for, Abrahamyan told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

“The Investigative Committee urges all those who had relatives, who were at the scene at the time of the explosion, and don’t know their whereabouts … to contact the Investigative Committee,” he said.

The deadly explosion, which destroyed the gasoline storage facility outside Stepanakert, occurred as tens of thousands of Karabakh residents were forcefully displayed as Azerbaijani army took over the region.

Videos posted on social media showed hundreds of cars parked near the depot, waiting to fuel up and head to Armenia. Fuel had been in extremely short supply in Karabakh since Azerbaijan blocked traffic through the Lachin corridor in December 2022.

Samvel Shahramanyan, the Karabakh president, said recently that Karabakh officials continue to believe that the blast was caused by a violation of safety rules. He said the underground depot, which reportedly contained 400,000 liters of gasoline reserved for Karabakh’s army, was besieged by scores of people desperate to leave their homeland.

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