Rescue teams managed to extract 10 survivors and 16 dead during the ten-day operations. But they failed to find the last person still listed as missing following the explosion that partly demolished the sprawling Surmalu market.
“The works were carried out in full,” said Hayk Kostanian, the spokesman for the Ministry of Emergencies. “Unfortunately, the citizen's body or his remains were not found.”
The 55-year-old missing man, Vanik Amirkhanian, worked at Surmalu.
The deadly explosion and subsequent fire reportedly occurred in a market area where fireworks and other pyrotechnics were stored. It is still not clear what caused it.
Law-enforcement authorities were quick to launch a criminal investigation into the blast. But they have not arrested or charged anyone so far. The market’s owner, Razmik Zakharian, has still not been questioned by investigators.
Fire inspectors said on August 17 that they had identified two dozen violations at Surmalu and given the market administration until the end of 2021 to comply with city-planning norms and fire-safety rules. They admitted that no follow-up inspection was carried out there.
Irina Madatova, the manager of Surmalu, claimed that the administration addressed the violations. But she did not elaborate.
Meanwhile, the Armenian government made clear on Wednesday that while it is considering providing financial assistance to the families of the people killed or injured by the blast it will not compensate Surmalu traders for the loss of their goods and commercial space not covered by business insurance. Economy Minister Vahan Kerobian argued that the state is not responsible for their failure to buy insurance.