3 dead and 79 missing after an explosion in Southern Russia

 Monday, December 31, 2018 


At least three people are dead and dozens missing after an explosion in an apartment building in southern Russia, leaving hundreds without a home in freezing temperatures on New Year’s Eve.



Six people had been pulled out of the debris as of 9:50 a.m. local time in Magnitogorsk, an industrial city in Russia’s Chelyabinsk region near the border with Kazakhstan. Magnitogorsk is an industrial city dotted with tourism hot spots.




Chelyabinsk Deputy Gov. Oleg Klimov said 79 people were still missing. A search and rescue effort is underway involving 469 emergency workers.The local branch of Russia’s Federal Security Service said the blast was believed to have been caused by a gas explosion.




Russian President Vladimir Putin has dispatched Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova to the city.




An entire section of the 12-floor residential building collapsed when a gas explosion tore through the high-rise in the industrial city of Magnitogorsk nearly 1,700km (1,050 miles) east of Moscow in the Ural Mountains.




Boris Dubrovsky, governor of the Chelyabinsk region where the city is located said that three people have been pulled alive from the rubble and three are dead. The officials said that the fate of 79 people was unclear, with police working to locate their whereabouts. The national television broadcast footage of the mangled heaps of concrete as hundreds of rescuers combed the debris in temperatures of minus 18 Celsius (minus 0.4 Fahrenheit).




In a sign of the seriousness of the situation, President Vladimir Putin ordered emergencies minister Yevgeny Zinichev and health minister Veronika Skvortsova to travel to Magnitogorsk to personally oversee the rescue operation.





The building was Soviet-era high-rise apartment which was built in 1973 and was home to around 1,100 people. The remaining residents have been moved elsewhere. A total of 110 people were registered as residents of the affected section of the building, regional authorities said. Sixteen of them have been found and another 15 were not home at the time of the blast. The deadly gas explosions are relatively common in Russia where much of the infrastructure dates back to the Soviet era and safety requirements are often ignored.


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