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15 Feb, 2009 10:35

Fire kills 16 in Russia’s South

At least sixteen people have died in a fire in a residential apartment block in Russia's southern Astrakhan region. Sixty people were rescued from the three-storey building.

Officials report seven people have been taken to hospital.

It took firefighters about two hours to extinguish the blaze.

The region’s prosecutor claims the fire started on the first floor of the wooden block and spread quickly. Authorities say the building was in need of repair and the residents should have been moved out.

A criminal case has been launched as officials investigate the incident.

The region's authorities have pledged financial help for the families left homeless.