|At least three people have died after a suspected gas explosion caused a section of a high-rise apartment to collapse in the Russian city of Magnitogorsk in the southern Urals, local news agencies report. Russia news agencies, citing the Emergency Situations Ministry, early on December 31 reported that 48 apartments were damaged in the building where some 110 people lived. — TASS Photo|Viet Nam News
MOSCOW — Three people were killed and another 79 were unaccounted for after a gas explosion rocked a residential building in Russia on Monday, leaving hundreds without a home in freezing temperatures on New Year’s Eve.
An entire section of the 12-storey residential building collapsed when a gas explosion tore through the high-rise in the industrial city of Magnitogorsk nearly 1,700km east of Moscow in the Ural mountains.
"Three people have been pulled alive from the rubble and three are dead," Boris Dubrovsky, governor of the Chelyabinsk region where the city is located, said in a statement.
Officials said that the fate of 79 people was unclear, with police working to locate their whereabouts.
National television broadcast footage of the mangled heaps of concrete as hundreds of rescue workers combed the debris in temperatures of minus 18 Celsius (minus 0.4 F).
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 Soviet-era high-rise was built in 1973 and was home to around 1,100 people. The residents have been evacuated.
A total of 110 people were registered as residents of the affected section of the building, regional authorities said. Sixteen of them have been evacuated, and another 15 were not home at the time of the blast. — AFP