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Death toll rises to 68 in Nagorno-Karabakh oil depot blast amid ethnic Armenian exodus

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The death toll from a massive explosion at an oil depot in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh has risen to 68, according to local authorities. The blast occurred on Monday, September 25, 2023, when a fire broke out at the facility near the town of Martakert, which is controlled by ethnic Armenian forces. The fire spread to several oil tanks, causing a series of powerful explosions that sent flames and smoke into the sky. The blast was felt as far as the capital of Armenia, Yerevan, about 200 kilometers away.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but some officials have suggested that it may have been triggered by a sabotage or a drone attack from Azerbaijan, which claims sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan has denied any involvement in the incident and accused Armenia of using the oil depot as a military base.

The explosion at the oil depot has added to the humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh, where thousands of ethnic Armenians have been fleeing their homes amid fears of renewed violence and persecution. According to the United Nations, more than 100,000 people have been displaced since the outbreak of hostilities in 2020, and many more are in need of urgent assistance. The UN has called for an immediate end to the hostilities and a peaceful resolution of the conflict through dialogue and respect for human rights.

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