Shopping mall blaze & collapse: 4 dead, over 30 injured, 650 evacuated in Kazan, Russia

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Four people have died and over 30 others have been injured in a shopping mall blaze in the Russian city of Kazan. Over six hundred people have been evacuated, while the cause of the fire is being determined.

“Some 4,000 square meters has been affected by the blaze, the fire doesn’t spread any further, and we’re putting out separate spot fires. The left part of the building has collapsed, the firefighters units can’t enter as there is a danger of further destruction,” Emergency Ministry representative Marat Rakhmatullin told TASS.

A 28-year-old woman died in the blaze, according to the local Investigative Committee. Three people later died of their injuries in hospital, the region's Public Health Ministry reported.

Over 30 people have been injured in the fire, according to local law enforcement. Over 20 of the injured people have been hospitalized, while others have sought medical assistance. One person is still missing.

Five people have been pulled from the rubble. A rescuer was among those trapped under the debris of the collapsed entrance to the shopping mall, local media reported.

A gas leak has been addressed: all communications were turned off in time to prevent the fire spreading further. Three helicopters have joined the rescue operation. With a railway line near the scene, a firefighters’ train is also involved in tackling the blaze.

The fire started in a cafe on the ground floor of the mall, local emergency services reported, adding that exact cause of the fire is yet to be determined. "One of the main versions is electro-technical [failure]," spokesman Andrey Rodygin said, RIA Novosti reported.

The collapsed part of the building is being searched by trained sniffer dogs, as "more people may be trapped under the wreckage," Rodygin added, saying that some shop owners managed to rush back into the mall to save their goods after the fire started.

The ‘Admiral’ is essentially a clothing market. Riot police have been sent to the scene as vendors are storming the building to salvage their goods from the inferno, interfering with rescue and containment efforts, according to the Russian Interior Ministry.

The fire is the third in a series of similar incidents in Kazan in recent months, local media reported. In October, blazes at another shopping mall and a Vietnamese market took place in the city, with another big market blaze reportedly having occurred in the summer.

The most catastrophic fire in Russia in recent years occurred in 2009 at the Lame Horse night club in Perm, which killed 156 people. After a pyrotechnics display ignited the nightclub’s wooden ceiling, many in the audience were unable to escape to poor fire safety precautions. The club’s owner was jailed for 6.5 years over the blaze.

READ MORE: Nightclub owner jailed over deadly Lame Horse blaze

Eight people were charged in connection with the fire, including pyrotechnics experts, regional fire inspectors and the club’s managers.