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Death Toll Rises To Eight In Magnitogorsk High-Rise Blast

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Ambulance in Tomsk, Russia

Yellow ambulance in Tomsk, Russia. Photo: Ilya Plekhanov.

At least eight people were killed and dozens remain unaccounted for after a suspected gas explosion triggered the collapse of a section of a high-rise apartment building in the Russian city of Magnitogorsk early on New Year’s Eve.

Rescue operations have been temporarily halted because of fears the efforts would shift rubble and cause more sections of the building to collapse, Russian Emergency Situations Minister Yevgeny Zinichev said on January 1.

“There is a real risk that more sections of the building will collapse,” he said, adding that it could take up to a day before it is safe to resume rescue efforts.

Rescue workers had braved frigid conditions through the night in an effort to locate victims.

The Emergency Situations Ministry said that 26 apartments housing 46 residents were destroyed. More than 30 people remain unaccounted for.

President Vladimir Putin traveled to the city in the southern Urals later on December 31 and met with local officials before visiting some of the injured at a nearby hospital.

“It is in the character of our people, despite New Year’s festivities, to remember to think of the dead and wounded at this moment,” Putin said at the hospital.

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Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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