Over 28,000 Armenian residents flee Nagorno-Karabakh
Hungry and exhausted Armenian families continued to jam roads on Tuesday to flee homes in the defeated breakaway enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, a departure blighted by an explosion at a fuel depot that killed dozens and injured more than 100.
Azerbaijan launched a lightning operation to take over Karabakh last week. The Armenians of Karabakh - part of Azerbaijan that had been beyond Baku's control since the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union - began fleeing this week after their forces were routed in the operation by Azerbaijan's military.
The Armenian government said more than 28,000 of Karabakh's 120,000 ethnic Armenian residents had already crossed into Armenia. Hundreds of cars and buses crammed with belongings snaked down the mountain road out of Azerbaijan.
Some fled packed into the back of open-topped trucks, others on tractors. Grandmother-of-four Narine Shakaryan arrived in her son-in-law's car with six people packed inside. The 77 km (48-mile) drive had taken 24 hours, she said. They hadn't eaten any food.
"The whole way the children were crying, they were hungry," Shakaryan told Reuters at the border, carrying her three-year old granddaughter, who she said had become ill during the journey. "We left so we would stay alive, not to live."
Fuel stations were thronged on the way out of the Karabakh capital, known as Stepanakert by Armenia and Khankendi by Azerbaijan.
Karabakh's ombudsman said the death toll in the explosion and fire at a fuel depot on Monday had risen to 68, with a further 105 people missing and nearly 300 injured. A total of 68 were taken to medical institutions in Armenia.
The authorities have given no explanation for the blast.