The hardship is literally written on the face of the Armenian doctor from Nagorno-Karabakh: “At this moment we have no medical resources left that can help us,” she says in a video that has been widely shared on social networks.

There is a lack of antibiotics and patients urgently need to be flown out, she says in a rushed voice. Then she runs back to the hospital room. The video is said to have been recorded today – a few hours after a fuel depot exploded not far from Nagorno-Karabakh’s capital Stepanakert.

The authorities of the internationally unrecognized republic reported 68 dead and around 290 injured on Tuesday evening. Almost 170 injured people were taken to hospitals in Armenia. The fate of around 100 people is still unknown. By then there had been talk of around 20 deaths.

The cause of last night’s explosion is still unclear. The only thing that seems certain is that many people fell victim to it. They wanted to flee in cars from the Azerbaijani army, which had attacked them last week and defeated them after short but fierce fighting. According to local reports, hundreds of them were queuing at the gas station at the time of the accident to get gasoline to escape.

Although Nagorno-Karabakh lies on Azerbaijani territory, it is predominantly inhabited by ethnic Armenians and has been contested between the two feuding ex-Soviet republics for decades. Last Tuesday, authoritarian Azerbaijan launched a military operation to conquer Nagorno-Karabakh. Just a day later, the defeated Karabakh Armenians surrendered.

Fear of expulsion

According to Armenian sources, more than 200 people were killed during the brief fighting and more than 400 others were injured. The tens of thousands of Armenian civilians in the region now fear being expelled or oppressed by the new Azerbaijani rulers.

The humanitarian situation is even more tense because Azerbaijan began blocking the only Armenian access road to Nagorno-Karabakh months before the attacks. That’s why, among other things, food is in short supply and – what is particularly fatal at the moment – medicines.

Since Sunday, fleeing civilians have been allowed to leave the country via this so-called Lachin corridor, and thousands of them have set out. Photos showed huge traffic jams forming on the winding road; progress was slow. Cars were packed with the most important belongings, and some household goods were strapped to the roof of the vehicle. When they arrived on Armenian territory, the people were welcomed by aid organizations. Many appeared completely exhausted, some were crying.

Red Cross: Hospitals overloaded

The government in Armenia’s capital Yerevan recently spoke of around 28,000 refugees. Meanwhile, protests continued in Yerevan against the political leadership, which, according to the demonstrators, did not do enough for the Karabakh Armenians.

With a view to the victims of the gas station explosion, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) also called for quick help. “Hospitals in the region were already overwhelmed by the explosion before the influx of patients,” it said in a statement.

“This is an absolute tragedy for hundreds of people who are now suffering from terrible, painful burns,” said Ariane Bauer, ICRC regional director for Europe and Central Asia. Red Cross teams delivered medical supplies and helped evacuate the injured by ambulance, it said.

Azerbaijan also officially offered its help. Baku is ready to receive victims of the explosion from Karabakh, said Azerbaijani presidential adviser Hikmet Hajiyev. It is extremely questionable whether, after the harassment of the past few months, the Armenians now want to place their injured compatriots in the care of the enemy neighboring country.