Incidents » Disasters, catastrophes
Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Hundreds of balloons explode in Armenian capital during concert

After the fire on Republic Square in the center of Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, the people were not allowed to leave the square. The incident occurred when many balloons filled with gas caught fire and exploded, EPress.am website reports.

The video published by 1in.am portal shows the police and a plain-clothed man detaining a young man as the latter is trying to leave the square. The man, a participant of the meeting, was telling them that he only wanted to go to a safe place. The video also shows the host of the meeting, which was held in the form of a concert, asking the audience to "give it up" to another artist.

Armenian President Serj Sarkisian was not staying on the square at the moment when the accident occurred. The host of the concert, Nazeni Ovannisian, was trying to calm people down saying that "nothing extraordinary has happened, let's continue our concert."

The police let everyone leave only by 9:00 p.m., after the concert finished.

"The police could do it not to let the potential culprits escape from the scene. No one could know the true reasons of the explosion on the square at first. What if it was a terrorist act? What if the terrorist was trying to escape?" spokespeople for the Yerevan police said.

As many as 154 people were injured as a result of the explosion on the square. All of them were hospitalized. Their condition was estimated as satisfactory. The majority of the injured individuals suffered the burns of their faces and hands. The youngest of the injured is a 4-year-old girl.

Hundreds of white balloons, which the participants of the meeting were holding not far from the stage, burst into flames immediately, having scattered drops of melted rubber around.

The meeting and the concert were organized on the threshold of the parliamentary elections. The elections are to take place in Armenia on Sunday, May 6th.

"The law-enforcement bodies have already started investigating the accident. The culprits will be found and punished accordingly," Armenian President Serj Sarkisian said.

"Most likely, the balloons were filled with hydrogen. Helium is absolutely inert - it does not come into any chemical reactions whatsoever," officials said.