Armenia: Chaos as Balloons Explode at Election Campaign Rally

Disaster struck a parliamentary election campaign rally in Yerevan, the Armenian capital, on Friday 4 May, when a cigarette apparently caused gas-filled balloons to ignite. Reports indicate that over 140 people were injured in the blast.

Held just days before crucial parliamentary elections are due to be held, the event, which also included a concert, was staged by the ruling Republic Party which hopes to maintain its control over the 131 seats in the country's National Assembly.

@Ripsii: Panic @ pre-election concert in Republic Square #Yerevan #Armenia What's happening?

@nhc_no: Gas balloons explode on Republican party rally in Yerevan-144 injured in the cramped Republic Square on last day of campaigning.#armelection

@onewmphoto: Chaotic scenes in Republic Square after balloons explode at a ruling HHK rally and concert #armelection

@ERostomashvili: Terrible… 144 people in hospital with burns after #armelection campaign balloons explode in #Yerevan via @onewmphoto

@thisisladychris: @ERostomashvili @onewmphoto :( Sad to hear that. I really like Yerevan. I hope that they have a swift recovery.

@ERostomashvili: @thisisladychris @onewmphoto Let us hope so. At least we know health minister said there were no severe injuries

@onewmphoto: Jesus, which idiot put what gas in those balloons. Photo shows MASSIVE explosion in Republic Sq. #armelection #armenia

@unzippedblog: What on earth these balloons were filled in with? #Sad&Angry #Armenia #armelection

@jason_blosser: Ever dependable @Reuters says blast in Armenia caused by helium-filled balloons…except helium is an inert gas! It doesn't explode, folks!

@Phooto: “@Telegraph: 140 people injured when balloons explode at Armenian concert” why did they fill balloons with Hydrogen?

@derekarridge: @Phooto @telegraph Perhaps their a bit behind in their science in Armenia?

The following day, given the severity of the incident, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee tweeted that many were also questioning why the rally and concert continued.

@nhc_no: Yerevan back to normal after yesterday's accident, with more than 100 hospitalised and discussions why the concert went on. #armelection

Unzipped also asks some pertinent questions.

My Question No.1:

What on earth these balloons were filled in with?

Unconfirmed reports suggest that instead of helium they were filled in with cheap gas-like substances. I am inclined to believe this version.

My Question No. 2:

Why after such huge incident “concert” continued? And why after such incident Armenia president went on to deliver his planned pre-election speech as if nothing happened?

No, it is NOT always OK to say: “Show must go on”.


My verdict:

What a blatant disregard to human lives!!
I am extremely sad and angry. My thoughts are with injured people…

Later media reports, however, added that the head of the ruling Republican Party, incumbent President Serzh Sargsyan, did visit those injured in hospital. But, as the number of those injured reportedly rose to 154, many questions still remain unanswered.

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