YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) — A strong explosion at a fireworks storage area tore through a popular market in Armenia’s capital on Sunday, killing at least one person, injuring 51 others and setting off a large fire.
Firefighters labored for hours after the early afternoon blast at the Surmalu market to put out the blaze that sent a towering column of thick smoke over the center of Yerevan. Rescue workers and volunteers searched amid still-exploding fireworks for victims who might be trapped under slabs of concrete and twisted metal.
Armenia’s national health ministry gave the casualty toll.
An Associated Press reporter at the scene saw two people pulled from the rubble — a woman with an injured leg and a young man who appeared to be unconscious. Emergencies Minister Armen Pambukhchyan also said two sisters were pulled alive from the rubble.
The market, located 2 kilometers (over a mile) south of the city center, is popular for its low prices and variety of goods.
There was no immediate word on what caused the fireworks to ignite.