Albert Petrosyan strapped his son's wheelchair and a few bags to the roof of his ancient Russian-made car ahead of another long drive after fleeing his home in Nagorno-Karabakh this week and spending just one night in a hotel in this Armenian town.

Petrosyan, 71, his wife Geghetsik, 65, and their 30-year-old son Agasi, who uses a wheelchair and has severe learning difficulties, are among more than 70,000 ethnic Armenians to have fled Karabakh so far since Azerbaijani forces retook the mountainous region last week in a lightning offensive.

"We will never return (to Karabakh). We'll never be able to," said Petrosyan, a retired mechanic. "It's impossible to live with Azeris."