Balloon explosion in Armenia injures 144

YEREVAN, Armenia

The explosion in Yerevan stemmed from a cluster of balloons that blew up over the event.

Officials said they suspect the balloons were filled with explosive hydrogen, instead of helium, and they ignited when someone lit a cigarette nearby.

According to reports, none of the injuries appear to be life threatening.

The balloons were supposed to be flown at a Republican Party rally that drew tens of thousands ahead of Sunday's parliamentary vote in the former Soviet republic. Despite the accident, Armenian President Serge Sarkisian addressed the rally with a speech.

The Republican Party dominates the parliament of this impoverished Caucasus nation that borders Turkey.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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