(AP)–A man and his wife were asphyxiated by a natural gas leak in Armenia–an emergency official said Monday–the fourth such incident this month.
The deaths of the couple–aged 59 and 55–brings the death toll from gas leaks and poisonings this year to 16–with 12 in December alone.
A spokesman for the emergency situations ministry said neighbors found the two bodies on Sunday at their home in the town of Ashtarak–north of Yerevan. Preliminary information showed that a poorly installed homemade gas heater and an illegal connection to municipal gas pipes were to blame.
Many people in the poor ex-Soviet republic use homemade gas heaters–sometimes tapping illegally into gas lines–because their homes lack heaters–which are expensive.