Mall fire kills at least 53 in Russia
March 26th, 2018 at 1:16 pm
Mall fire kills at least 53 in Russia

International desk- At least 53 people have been killed in a fire at a shopping mall in Russian city of Kemerovo, according to media reports.

The fire at the shopping and entertainment complex in the Siberian coal-mining city might have left 41 children among the victims, reported BBC. In a report the broadcaster says at least 16 people are still missing.

The blaze started on an upper floor of the Winter Cherry complex while many of the victims were at the cinema.

Video posted on social media showed people jumping from windows to escape the flames on Sunday.

“According to preliminary information, the roof collapsed in two cinemas,” Russia’s Investigative Committee said in a statement.

The cause of the fire is not yet known and authorities have launched an investigation.

Some 660 emergency personnel were deployed in the rescue effort. Firefighters tackled the blaze for more than 17 hours.

Kemerovo, a key coal-producing area, located about 3,600km east of the capital Moscow.

The fire is believed to have started at around 17:00 hours on Sunday in a part of the building that contains the entertainment complex, according to the local media.

Yevgeny Dedyukhin, deputy head of the Kemerovo region emergency department, said the area of the fire was about 1,500 sq m.

“The shopping centre is a very complex construction,” he said. “There are a lot of combustible materials.”

Four people have been detained for questioning, including the head of the company that manages the shopping centre, according to the Investigative Committee. The owner of the Winter Cherry complex is thought to be among those detained.

Russian officials had initially given a figure of 64 people missing but later clarified that this included victims whose remains had not been identified.

At least nine of the bodies found so far are children.

Andrei Mamchenkov, deputy head of Russia’s National Crisis Management Centre, said 41 children were not accounted for.

Emergency services finally reached a cinema hall on the third floor after being obstructed by smoke and the danger of collapsing masonry, an unnamed source told Russian news agency Interfax.

They found no bodies inside but fear people may have been buried under rubble.