International

Russia blast death toll rises to 21

Russia blast death toll rises to 21
More bodies are likely to be pulled from the rubble.
London, Jan 2 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 1/2/2019 11:40:15 AM IST

Russian rescuers have now pulled 21 dead bodies from the rubble of a collapsed apartment block in the city of Magnitogorsk.

According to BBC, the death toll rose from 14 to 21 on Wednesday. About 20 people are missing. The condition of an 11-month-old boy rescued on Tuesday is serious but not life-threatening. He is in a Moscow hospital and will not undergo surgery for now.

Officials believe a gas leak was to blame for Monday’s blast. A day of mourning is being marked in Magnitogorsk, in the Urals region about 1,695km (1,053 miles) east of Moscow. The current temperature there is -15C, and it plunges further overnight.

The rescued baby, called Ivan, spent 35 hours in the freezing cold, and was reported to have severe frostbite to his limbs, a head injury and multiple leg fractures. However, Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova told reporters on Wednesday that his head injury was minor and treatment had improved his blood circulation.

His mother also survived the suspected gas explosion. Six people have been rescued at the scene so far.

The blast ripped through the first floor at 06:02 local time (01:02 GMT), bringing seven upper storeys crashing down. In all, 48 flats - home to 120 people - were wrecked.

There was also some damage to nearby sections of the housing block, built in 1973.

Investigators have not found any traces of explosive at the scene, and the FSB state security service is treating it as a gas leak accident. However, a criminal investigation has been opened, for suspected criminal negligence. In an apparently unrelated incident, an explosion destroyed a minibus near the apartment block on Tuesday night, killing three people. Investigators say the vehicle was carrying two gas canisters.

President Vladimir Putin spoke to officials at the scene on Monday and later met survivors.

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