One person was killed and two others injured in an explosion that partly destroyed an apartment building in Yerevan early on Wednesday.
Both injured residents of the four-story building were rushed to hospital. One of them, a 40-year-old man, was reportedly in a critical condition.
Armenia’s Minister for Emergency Situations Felix Tsolakian suggested that a gas leak was the likely cause of the blast as he oversaw a search and rescue operation conducted by his subordinates.
The rescuers needed more than five hours to find and recover the body of the deceased victim buried under the rubble of the building’s destroyed section. Tsolakian said that the 58-year-old man was found lying on his bed. “He was probably asleep,” the minister told journalists at the scene.
Authorities also evacuated 21 other residents of the building located in Yerevan’s northern Kanaker-Zeytun district. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian pledged to provide them with temporary housing when he inspected the site of the explosion in the morning.
According to Tsolakian, the blast destroyed or seriously damaged 12 apartments. It also blew out windows in adjacent apartment blocks.
Armenia’s Investigative Committee was quick to launch a criminal inquiry into the deadly accident. The law-enforcement agency said in the afternoon that its officers are questioning local residents and taking other “investigative actions.”