The Armenian Ministry of Emergency Situations said rescuers sent by it there by needed about an hour to extinguish a fire caused by the explosion, which blew up a large reservoir filled with alcohol. They then recovered the dead bodies of the two victims.
One of the victims was the executive director of the distillery located in Armavir province west of Yerevan while the other managed a construction team working at its premises.
Four other people suffered severe burns and were rushed to a provincial hospital. They were transferred to Yerevan later in the day. The Armenian Ministry of Health described their condition as critical.
The Armavir distillery employing more than 200 people is a local division of the Proshian Cognac Factory, a major Armenian brandy producer. Its owner, Armen Gasparian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that the blast was likely caused by welding carried out dangerously close to the alcohol reservoir.
Armenia’s Investigative Committee echoed that explanation, saying that the welders appear to have violated safety rules. The law-enforcement body said it has launched an inquiry into criminal negligence.