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At the moment, search and rescue operations at the Surmalu shopping market explosion site in Yerevan are being carried out in the presumed epicenter area. Armen Pambukhchyan, the Minister of Emergency Situations of Armenia, informed reporters about this on Thursday morning.

"According to information, a citizen was also there at the time of the explosion. We are carrying out work in the given area in full force," he added.

As per the minister, the actual explosion process had started in the Surmalu building, and rescuers are working there now.

Pambukhchyan noted that the search area has narrowed.

"Since it is assumed that the epicenter of the explosion is right there, from which both the fire and the shock wave originated, this in turn causes complications for us. Evaporation also occurred from such a shock wave and [high] temperature. The odds are not encouraging, but we will do everything to be able to clear that part, use our dogs, and our search and rescue team will try to enter the given part and carry out work", the emergency minister said.

Sixteen people, including a pregnant woman and a small child, were killed in the powerful explosion at the Surmalu shopping market on August 14. One of these casualties, however, has not been identified yet. Those identified are: Misak Margaryan (born in 1964), Anahit Mkhitaryan (born in 1967), Jemma Nazaryan (born in 1960), Anahit Khalatyan, Vardan Kocharyan (born in 1960), and Gayane Avetisyan (born in 1965), Aram Hayrapetyan (born in 1980), Vachagan Yeghoyan (born in 2000), Erna Grigoryan (born in 1980), Harutyun Garakyan (born in 1987), Mariam Khachatryan (born in 1992), Sirarpi Khachatryan (born in 1994), Marat Shahbazyan (born in 2018 ), Hrachya Sargsyan (born in 1976), and Artavazd Hayrapetyan (born in 1951).

In addition, 62 people were administered to hospitals, four of them continue to receive treatment there.

Criminal proceedings have been launched into the aforesaid explosion—and under the Criminal Code articles on "Violation of fire safety rules or requirements, which has negligently caused the death of a person or other serious consequences," and "Violation of rules or requirements for the storage, accounting, transportation, delivery or use of flammable or combustible materials, which has negligently caused the death of a person or other serious consequences."

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