Hundreds of Armenians injured as balloons explode

Armenia's Emergency Ministry says hundreds of people have been injured after clusters of balloons exploded on the central square of the ex-Soviet nation's capital.

It also said 104 of them had to be hospitalized with burns after Friday's explosion in Yerevan, which it said was caused by a smoker who lit a cigarette near the balloons.

The balloons were supposed to be flown at the Republican Party's rally that drew tens of thousands of Armenians. Despite the accident, Armenian President Serge Sarkisian addressed the rally with a speech.

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