At least 7 dead in massive shopping mall blaze in Russia (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)
Rescuers found two bodies in the burnt-out mall, raising the death toll to seven people, according to an emergency official, cited by TASS.
Earlier, three women, one man and a child were confirmed dead in the incident, the Russian Investigative Committee said. The committee’s spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko said that three children and one woman who were in the mall’s playroom were presumed dead. Meanwhile, 30 people were taken to local hospitals, the committee added.
Some 35 people are feared missing as the fire continues to rage in the shopping mall, a spokesman for the local emergency services told reporters. As of 9pm (local time), the firefighters were still struggling to extinguish the blaze in the left wing of the building, where cinemas are located.
The other parts of the mall remained filled with dense smoke and the emergency crews couldn’t enter these to search through rubble, according to the spokesman. A special task force, which includes rescue workers and psychologists, is expected at Kemerovo from the city of Krasnoyarsk.
The fire was localized to some 1,600 square meters by midnight. Some 1,200 meters of roofing and floors in the building have collapsed, an emergency services operative told RIA Novosti.
As of 1am local time, the firefighters had checked the ground and first floors of the building, while the second floor was still being explored, the spokesman for the emergency services told reporters. The third floor of the building, where the blaze had supposedly started, was still off-limits for the rescuers, due to extremely high temperatures.
In addition, some 200 animals of 25 species that lived in the mall’s petting zoo are feared to be dead. “I think they died of suffocation, because I was the last to leave and there were no other people left in the zoo,” the facility director Evgeniy Videman told TASS. “There was thick smoke on the third floor, people were leaving in panic by a side ladder. There was no chance to get the animals out,” he added.