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17 Aug 2022

Naira Bulghadarian, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Armenia: Yerevan trading center's director denies breach of fire safety regulations, fire inspection disagrees

Yerevan Market Director Denies Breach Of Fire-Safety Regulations, 16 August 2022

The director of a Yerevan market where an apparent fireworks warehouse explosion last Sunday killed more than a dozen people has denied any breach of fire-safety regulations.

A fire inspection body, however, insisted after the incident at Surmalu, a sprawling shopping center just off downtown Yerevan where at least 16 people were killed and 61 injured in a massive fire triggered by the blast, that two dozen violations identified during an inspection conducted in the spring of 2021 had not been eliminated by the market’s administration.

Talking to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service briefly on the phone...Irina Madatova, the manager of Surmalu, asserted that they did eliminate the violations. She did not elaborate.

The fire inspection body said it gave Surmalu until the end of last year to comply with city planning norms and fire-safety rules at an area of ​more than 3,000 square meters. After that, no new inspection was carried out, it added.

Vardan Tadevosian, a spokesperson for Armenia’s Investigative Committee, said that about two dozen people, most of them survivors of the fire, have been questioned so far. He did not say why no one from the managers of Surmalu or the owner of the market have been interrogated. According to the official, there are still no suspects or accused in the criminal investigation launched after the explosion...