Government rules out terrorism as cause for the tragedy at Yerevan Shopping Centre

A fire at a Yerevan shopping centre on Sunday afternoon has left many dead and wounded. 

Firefighters have struggled since Sunday afternoon to cope with the fire at the "Surmalu" Shopping Centre which left people buried under the rubble. Around 350 firefighters from across the Armenian capital, as well as neighbouring districts are involved in the current operation, as well as volunteers. The operation is still on-going.

By Monday morning the number of people dead from the incident had risen to six, 56 people were injured and 18 people are listed as missing, and possibly still being under the rubble. Search Dogs have indicated that there are people still under the rubble.

Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan, visited the scene of the incident on Monday morning (15 August) and was briefed on the response of the emergency services.

The Ministry of Emergency Situations of Armenia is 99 percent sure that the explosion in the "Surmalu" shopping center was not a terrorist act, the Minister of Emergency Situations, Armen Pambukhchyan, said when speaking to journalists.

"Looking at the moment of the explosion, it becomes obvious that this cannot have been a terrorist act, because first there was some burning, smoke appeared, and then an explosion. In other words, there was some fire, and then it spread to the explosives." Pambukhchyan explained.

Throughout Sunday evening it became clear that some forces in Armenia where trying to use the tragedy for political purposes, saying the incident was a terrorist attack. There followed reports of bombs at metro stations and government building, all of which proved to be false. 

Unofficial reports suggested that the incident happened when a fire reached an area where fireworks were being stored. This explains the reasons why there were a number of explosions, which continued for some time. 

source: with agencies