Officials said the death toll from the massive blaze triggered by an apparent fireworks warehouse explosion at the Surmalu shopping center just off downtown Yerevan rose to 16, with another 4 people still unaccounted for.
At least 7 out of 61 people hospitalized after the incident continued to receive treatment for their injuries at different hospitals in the Armenian capital on August 16, local health authorities said.
The Ministry of Emergency Situations said firefighters had managed to contain the fire, with rescue crews continuing to look for survivors or victims under the rubble of a partially collapsed three-story warehouse building that authorities say is shaky.
While it is still unclear what exactly caused the fireworks to detonate, Minister Pambukhchian told reporters on Monday that authorities practically rule out terrorism as a cause of the incident.
“Watching the footage of the explosion, we almost rule out such a theory [that a bomb had been planted], because first there was smoke, then fire covering some small area, then came an explosion,” he said. “Quite a large amount of explosive materials was stored there.”
Earlier, it was reported that investigators are looking into a possible breach of fire-safety regulations at the market.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian visited the scene of the search-and-rescue operations on Monday, but made no public remarks immediately.