Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Eight killed in Russia gas blast

Eight were killed in an explosion at an apartment building in Russia (AP/Ministry of Emergency Situations)

At least eight people have been killed and 12 injured as a section of a nine-storey apartment building in southern Russia collapsed following a natural gas explosion, officials said.

Anzhelika Barinova of Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry said two others were still missing after Monday's explosion in Astrakhan, 800 miles south-east of Moscow.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is running to reclaim the presidency in Sunday's vote, has visited the explosion site.

He ordered the local authorities to immediately find new apartments for all the residents of other sections of the building, addressing their fears that the entire structure could collapse.

As Mr Putin was inspecting the wreckage, several hundred rescuers continued searching through the debris for those missing.

Mr Putin has ordered local gas company officials to be suspended pending an official probe, and four of the company's workers were detained on charges of violation of fire safety rules.

Explosions caused by leaky gas pipes and canisters are common in Russian apartment buildings.

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