A shopping center in the Siberian city of Kemerovo went up in flames on Sunday, claiming at least 64 lives and injuring dozens more, according to local authorities and news agencies.
The fire at the Zimnyaya Vishnya mall, also known as Winter Cherry, reportedly erupted on the top floor of the four-story building — which housed a cinema, bowling alley, children’s center and petting zoo — and spread to about 1,500 square meters. On Monday morning, the death count had risen following the discovery of 16 more bodies, with the number of people hospitalized or receiving outpatient care at 52. Many of the victims were children.
Officials have yet to determine the cause of the blaze, which was brought under control by firefighters late last night. A criminal case has been opened, with Russia’s TASS news agency adding that four people have been detained for questioning in connection with the tragedy — one of whom is a lessee of an outlet where the fire is presumed to have started.
The building is at risk of collapse, Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov told reporters, adding that structure reinforcement equipment had been sent to the city. Following a preliminary investigation, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation reported that fire exits at the shopping center had been blocked. The region’s governor, Aman Tuleyev, said that families of those who were killed in the fire will receive a compensation of one million rubles, or more than $17,500.
Kemerovo is located about 2,250 miles east of Moscow.
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