20 killed, hundreds injured in Nagorno-Karabakh fuel depot blast

20 killed, hundreds injured in Nagorno-Karabakh fuel depot blast
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A fuel depot explosion in Nagorno-Karabakh has left at least 20 dead and hundreds injured amid an ethnic Armenian exodus following Azerbaijan's military offensive.

At least 20 people have lost their lives and hundreds have been left wounded following a devastating explosion at a fuel depot in Nagorno-Karabakh. This catastrophic incident has further compounded the ongoing crisis in the region, as ethnic Armenians scramble to evacuate amid an aggressive military offensive by Azerbaijan.

The region's health department reported the grim toll, confirming the discovery of 13 bodies and the loss of seven lives due to injuries sustained in the explosion, which occurred outside the regional capital of Stepanakert (known as Khankendi by Azerbaijan). Additionally, 290 individuals have been hospitalized, with dozens in critical condition. The depot had been a gathering point for those seeking to leave the conflict-ridden region by car.

Efforts to aid the wounded are underway, as a team of medical professionals departs from Yerevan to Stepanakert via helicopter, carrying essential medication and medical supplies, according to the healthcare ministry. The explosion followed months of blockade by Azerbaijan, causing shortages of crucial supplies in the region.

Amidst the chaos, negotiations for the evacuation of the wounded have commenced. This tragic incident coincides with a mass exodus of people from the region, with Armenia reporting that 13,350 "forcibly displaced persons" have entered the country. The Armenian government has pledged to provide accommodation for all those in need.

On the diplomatic front, national security advisers from Azerbaijan, Armenia, France, Germany, and the European Union's special representative for the region are set to convene in Brussels on Tuesday.

Azerbaijan's military initiated its attack on Nagorno-Karabakh on September 19, swiftly claiming control over the enclave. This offensive compelled ethnic Armenian authorities to agree to ceasefire terms, brokered by Russia, which included laying down arms and commencing "reintegration" talks. The explosion at the fuel depot underscores the dire humanitarian situation in the region and the urgent need for international intervention.