Death toll rises

Sur­vivors of gas ex­plo­sion in Rus­sia of­fered fi­nan­cial help

China Daily - - FRONT PAGE -

MOSCOW — The num­ber of con­firmed dead from a New Year’s Eve gas ex­plo­sion in a Rus­sian apart­ment block jumped to 37 on Thurs­day as res­cuers re­cov­ered more bod­ies from the rub­ble of the par­tially col­lapsed build­ing.

Six chil­dren were among the dead, the emer­gency sit­u­a­tions min­istry said in a state­ment, and four peo­ple were still un­ac­counted for.

Res­cuers have been brav­ing tem­per­a­tures as low as -27 C to search through man­gled con­crete and metal at the site in the Ural Moun­tains city of Mag­ni­to­gorsk.

Six peo­ple in­clud­ing two chil­dren have been res­cued at the site, a baby boy was found alive on Tues­day af­ter 35 hours spent in freez­ing cold in the rub­ble, in what emer­gency of­fi­cials de­scribed as a mir­a­cle.

The ex­plo­sion tore through the 10-story build­ing in the in­dus­trial city nearly 1,700 kilo­me­ters east of Moscow in the early hours of Mon­day.

The So­viet-era build­ing was home to about 1,100 peo­ple and the ex­plo­sion de­stroyed 35 apart­ments, leav­ing dozens home­less.

The emer­gen­cies min­istry said work was con­tin­u­ing at the site on Thurs­day, with nearly 900 peo­ple in­volved in res­cue and re­cov­ery ef­forts.

A bridge was built to reach higher ar­eas and one of the build­ing’s walls was taken down as it was threat­en­ing to col­lapse on res­cue work­ers.

On Thurs­day, res­i­dents of other parts of the build­ing were al­lowed to en­ter their apart­ments, in half-hour stretches, to re­cover some be­long­ings, the min­istry said.

Fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance

All the sur­vivors were in stable con­di­tion, said the of­fice of Chelyabins­k re­gional gover­nor Boris Dubrovsky, who vis­ited sev­eral of the in­jured in the hospi­tal on Thurs­day.

Dubrovsky’s of­fice said he had also ap­proved new fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance for the vic­tims, in­clud­ing pay­ments of 1 mil­lion rubles ($14,500) to the fam­i­lies of those killed and 400,000 rubles for those in­jured.

Fam­i­lies who lost their apart­ments will re­ceive pay­ments of up 500,000 rubles, as well as be­ing pro­vided with new homes.

Fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance will also be pro­vided to help pay for fu­ner­als, the first six of which are to be held on Fri­day, the gover­nor’s of­fice said.

The ex­plo­sion, which of­fi­cials have said was likely caused by a gas leak, hap­pened as most of the build­ing’s res­i­dents were asleep.

Wit­nesses de­scribed a “wave of fire” and said the blast was strong enough to shat­ter win­dows in nearby build­ings.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors have launched a probe, but have said there is no rea­son to sus­pect foul play.

Gas ex­plo­sions are rel­a­tively com­mon in Rus­sia, where much of the in­fra­struc­ture dates back to the So­viet era and safety re­quire­ments are of­ten ig­nored.

Lo­cated in the min­eral-rich south­ern Urals, Mag­ni­to­gorsk, with a pop­u­la­tion of more than 400,000, is home to one of Rus­sia’s largest steel pro­duc­ers.


Peo­ple bring flow­ers, can­dles and toys to com­mem­o­rate vic­tims of a re­cent ex­plo­sion in an apart­ment block in Mag­ni­to­gorsk, Rus­sia, on Wed­nes­day.

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