Rescue workers and volunteers in civilian clothes searched for victims who might be trapped under slabs of concrete and twisted metal.

Rescue workers and volunteers in civilian clothes searched for victims who might be trapped under slabs of concrete and twisted metal.
Rescue workers and volunteers in civilian clothes searched for victims who might be trapped under slabs of concrete and twisted metal. (Reuters)

A strong explosion at a fireworks storage area has torn through a popular retail market in the Armenian capital Yerevan, killing at least one person, injuring 36 others and setting off a large fire.

Sunday's blast, the cause of which was not immediately known, ripped through the retail market in Surmalu.

A spokesman for the emergency services ministry, Aik Kostanyan, said the casualty toll stood at one person killed and 36 injured, but it was not clear if anyone remained under the rubble.

The health ministry said 26 people had been taken to the hospital; 11 of them are minors.

Photos and videos posted on social media showed a thick column of black smoke over the market and successive detonations could be heard.

Successive detonations

Earlier, the health ministry said there were 10 firefighting trucks on the spot and another 10 were on their way.

More than three hours after the early afternoon blast, firemen laboured to put out the blaze that sent a towering column of smoke over the centre of Yerevan.

Rescue workers and volunteers in civilian clothes searched for victims who might be trapped under slabs of concrete and twisted metal.

Fireworks continued to explode as the firemen and rescuers worked amid thick smoke.

The market, about two kilometres (over a mile) south of the city centre, is popular for its low prices and variety of goods.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies