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At least 144 people were transferred to Yerevan’s hospitals with burns and injuries after mass explosion of gas-inflated balloons during the pre-election concert and rally held in Yerevan’s main square by President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) late on Friday.
RFE/RL reports: “Eyewitnesses, including an RFE/RL cameraman, Sevak Grigorian, said hundreds of gas-filled balloons held up by young HHK activists at Republic Square exploded, sparking a massive firewall and injuring dozens of them. Grigorian described cries in the crowd and chaotic scenes resulting in a brief stampede that nearly caused him to lose his camera.”
Armenian Police said they’ve launched investigation and are looking at all possibilities, including that of deliberate arson.
Armenian President, who visited some of the injured youth at the hospital shortly after the blast, has come up with a statement, noting, that this was a “blow” to all of us as well as promising to provide the best possible care for the injured.
“I’m calling upon everyone to remain calm. Let’s pray for the injured and wish them a quick recovery,” he has added.
PS: Eyewitnesses told me, that the concert program at the Republic square, which was halted after the blast, resumed in less than 20 minutes after it and Serzh Sargsyan delivered his campaign speech as planned. Apparently, the organizers of the rally weren’t informed about the real scope of the blast and numbers of injured at that point, otherwise, one would consider their behavior a cynical attempt to cover up everything.