Fire is engulfing Moscow’s Federation Tower – a skyscraper under construction

Fire is engulfing Moscow’s Federation Tower – a skyscraper under construction which is set to become Europe’s tallest building. About 300 square meters are ablaze; people have been evacuated from the building, in the city’s business center.

RT correspondents at the scene say the scale of the fire is hard to verify at the moment as the flames continue to spread – WATCH LIVE feed from the scene. The fire broke on the building’s 67th floor (250 meters above the ground) and by now has spread to several sections on the 66th and 65th floors.

WATCH LIVE feed from the scene

The 14 people working at the floors hit by the firestorm have been evacuated. Authorities have expanded a cordoned-off area surrounding the building due to fears the burning floors may collapse.

The top floor is nearly completely ablaze, with the fire smoothing out and then bursting again. The wind in lower floors is facilitating the fire’s expansion. The huge image boards on the skyscraper’s walls have caught fire and threaten neighboring buildings.The flames can be seen from as far as ten kilometers away.

Alarmed by the fire’s extent, Russia’s emergencies ministry has sent two KA-226 helicopters to the scene. In order to raise efficiency, 20 brigades of firemen are now using hoses – before, they were using fire extinguishers. The blaze, which is reported to have started as trash and canvas catching fire, was ranked the highest grade in terms of difficulty.

Witnesses say it resembles a “fiery crown on top of the building.” Meanwhile the weather in Moscow is getting windy, which could contribute to a speedier expansion of the fire.

The fire’s source could be a fan used for heating asphalt bitumen that was left unwatched, an anonymous source told Interfax. The fan could have ignited trash and the structure of a billboard at the building’s top.

Although the building is still under construction, though some offices located in the first ten floors are already in use. There are also functioning offices in the 29th floor.

The building’s safety was insured, including building and assembly works, RIA Novosti reports. There have not yet been any estimations as to how much will the repairs cost.

The Federation Tower has been under construction for almost ten years now. Located in the west of Moscow, was planned as part of Moscow City business center. Once complete, it is set to become Europe’s tallest building.

The building will consist of two three-sided towers called “East” (243 meters high) and “West” (360 meters). The “East” part is the one that is currently on fire.

In April 2011, a construction watchdog ordered the suspension of work on the tower and revoked the contractor’s license, after a number of technical and fire safety violations were detected.

The contractor, Mirax Group owned by businessman Sergey Polonsky, claimed that the Moscow authorities are inventing a pretext to take over the company’s projects. Without a license, Mirax will not be able to obtain a bank loan and the construction process will be frozen. The problem was later solved.

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