Residential Gas Blast Kills Six, 14 Missing

At least six people have been killed and 14 are missing in the Southern Russian city of Astrakhan after a household gas blast destroyed the third floor of a nine-storey residential building, three other sections subsequently collapsed on Monday, the regional Emergencies Ministry said on Tuesday.

“Six bodies have been found, two of them were recovered from the debris, their identification is underway,” an Emergencies Ministry spokeswoman said.

According to investigators, 14 people are still missing.

The authorities pledged to pay one million rubles (about $33,000) to the relatives of those killed in the blast. People whose apartments were damaged will also be paid one million rubles.

Safety violations during repair works, or a suicide attempt by one of the occupants, are thought to have caused the household gas explosion that ripped through the house on Monday afternoon, Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said.

The surviving residents of the building have demanded new apartments, saying the building is now too dangerous to live in.

“We are very scared. After the blast the house was shaking so much that the remaining parts of the building were distorted. We can’t even close the entrance doors to our flats,” a woman living in the stricken building said.

Another occupant said residents wanted the building to be condemned and they be given new apartments.

“I’m a man, but I’m afraid to enter there. I’ve got a little kid, how can I go in to the house with him?” he said.

The authorities will decide which residents will be resettled after specialists complete an examination of the damaged building.

Investigators have opened a case against the building’s engineers on fire safety violation charges, the Investigative Committee said.

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