At least 144 have been injured as hundreds of balloons exploded at a political rally in Armenia’s capital Yerevan. The balloons were filled with helium, according to the country’s Emergency Ministry.
The balloons exploded near the stage, showering bystanders with molten rubber. Scores of people have been hospitalized with burns of varying degrees.
Preliminary information from the emergency services says that a cigarette could have caused the fire that led to the explosion. An investigation is under way.
The rally, which was being held ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections, had attracted more than 15,000 participants.
State TV reports that the President Serzh Sargsyan addressed the crowds at the scene 30 minutes after the accident. The report also says that Sargsyan visited those injured in hospital.