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Final number of victims 64 people, no one is missing

29 March, 2018, 01:28 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • Fifteen fire teams including 60 firemen were at the scene of the accident where some 1,500 square metres of the mall was ablaze

Thousands of distraught Russians rallied Tuesday in a Siberian city to demand a full probe into a shopping mall fire that killed at least 64 people, many of them children. The blaze engulfed the four-story mall in the city of Kemerovo on Sunday while it was packed with parents and children on the first weekend of the school recess.

While in the Bryansk, Yaroslav and Tambov regions, among others, remembrance ceremonies began yesterday, before the official mourning scheduled for today.

The pope sent a telegram Monday offering condolences for the dead, "especially the many children who lost their lives", and he offered blessings to those who are helping the injured and searching for the missing.

Protesters held banners reading "Bribes kill children" and "We demand a real investigation", and some chanted "Down with the cowardly regime!", "Putin - resign!", "What did the children die for?" and "We are sick and exhausted of him", meaning Putin.

A series of safety failures seemed to have led to one of the deadliest Russian building fires in recent memory.

Investigators said fire exits had been illegally blocked, the public address system had not been switched on, the fire alarm system was broken, and children had been locked inside cinemas.

Putin, who was re-elected for a fourth term in polls earlier this month, visited a memorial of toys, flowers and balloons near the gutted mall's facade, telling officials he felt "like wailing" over the number of victims.

Security guards, supposed to help with any emergency evacuation, were reportedly among the first to flee when the fire broke out. Fourteen people remain in hospitals, including two children. Putin blamed the blaze on "criminal negligence" and promised that those responsible would be held accountable.

Television channels on Wednesday broadcast with a black ribbon on the screen or a message "Kemerovo - we mourn", while Orthodox Christian channel Spas aired a show called "Kemerovo: what can our prayers do?"

The inspections, targeting malls in Russian Federation with "entertainment centers" and movie theaters, are scheduled to wrap up on April 16.



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