Nagorno Karabakh separatist authorities said Monday evening that a fuel tank explosion caused more than 200 injuries and requested urgent foreign assistance to deal with the catastrophe.

“The number of injured after the explosion of a fuel tank exceeds 200. Most of them are serious to very serious,” the human rights official of the self-proclaimed republic, Gegham Stepanyan, stated on social networks.

The Nagorno Karabakh region is inhabited by Armenians, but belongs to Azerbaijan.

The local Interior Ministry said there were deaths and injuries, without further details, although some local media said more than 200 people were affected.

Emergency services are participating in the rescue efforts and have already transferred numerous injured people to the nearest hospitals.

When the explosion occurred, near the fuel depot there were a large number of cars carrying Karabakhis who wanted to leave the enclave after last week’s military defeat by the Azerbaijani army.

The depot is located near the highway that connects the regional capital Stepanakert (Jankendi for Azerbaijan) with the city of Askeran.

According to the government, around 6,650 people displaced by the recent Azerbaijani military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh have arrived in Armenia since the evacuation began on Sunday.

Azerbaijan regains control over Nagorno Karabakh, a region in the South Caucasus. Officially it belongs to Azerbaijan, but it had been under the control of Armenian forces for decades; In practice it has functioned as an independent area. There are fears of a large exodus to Armenia, for fear of ethnic cleansing. (JO)