At least 20 people have died in the explosion of a fuel depot in the embattled conflict region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The Health Ministry of the South Caucasus region said on Tuesday that 290 more people were hospitalized with injuries of varying severity. The cause of the explosion on Monday evening is still unclear.
The Ministry of Health announced that seven people hospitalized had died by Tuesday morning. In addition, 13 dead people were recovered from the scene of the accident. Dozens of injured people were in mortal danger. It initially remained unclear what triggered the disaster in the Armenian-majority region, which was attacked and defeated by Azerbaijan last week.
The authorities initially spoke of at least 200 injuries after the explosion. Large flames could be seen in photos on social networks. Politician Metakse Akopjan said that at the time of the accident, many people were queuing for gasoline at the camp because they wanted to flee the Azerbaijanis to Armenia in cars. The region's human rights office appealed to the international community about the urgent need to fly out people, especially those who were seriously injured, for treatment. "Nagorno-Karabakh's medical capacity is not sufficient to save people's lives," said the statement on the platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
The humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, which has long been contested between the two hostile ex-Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan, is already catastrophic. Azerbaijanis have been blocking the only Armenian access road for months, which is why food, medicine and gasoline are in short supply in the region.
Last Tuesday, authoritarian Azerbaijan launched a military operation to conquer Nagorno-Karabakh. Just a day later, the defeated Karabakh Armenians surrendered. According to Armenian sources, more than 200 people died during the brief fighting and more than 400 others were injured. The tens of thousands of Armenian civilians in the region now fear being displaced or oppressed by the new Azerbaijani rulers.
The number of refugees who have traveled to the motherland of Armenia had risen to over 13,500 people by Tuesday morning. The government in Yerevan has promised the refugees accommodation. There are serious protests in the country itself against the government, which, in the opinion of the demonstrators, has not done enough for the Karabakh Armenians.
Note: This article has been updated