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2 Jul, 2008 14:03

Sochi blast claims 2

An explosion has ripped through a 12-storey apartment block in the Russian resort city of Sochi, killing at least two people and leaving more than 30 others injured. A 14-year-old and his grandmother were killed. A criminal case has been opened into the i

The blast shook the apartment in the Blinovo block at 5:34 am.

Those who live in the building and hundreds of people in the neighborhood were terrified.

“I’m from the neighbouring house. We were scared when the glass was smashed out. Thank god the children are alive,” a witness said. 

“I was on the 12th floor when the explosion went off. Half past four it blew. I thought it was a thunderstorm, but then the smoke went in and I started to choke. And only just now they took me down,” a woman recalls.

“We rushed out of our beds when we heard a powerful blast. When we looked out of the window there was smoke all over the place. My husband came down, saw what happened and started helping people,” another woman said.  

The blast destroyed the only staircase in the building, making it impossible for survivors to escape.

Minutes later firemen arrived on the scene and used their ladders to help people leave their apartments.

All 120 residents of the building have been evacuated.

The police are searching for any clues. From the very beginning there were two main versions – natural gas explosion, someone could have kept a gas canister in this building, and a possibility of a terrorist act.

However, the household gas cylinder theory was later considered unlikely, according to the Russian technical standards watchdog, Rostechnadzor.

All leads are being checked and it might take a while before the investigators will come up with the final version.

A criminal case has been opened into the explosion.

“The criminal case has been opened under Article 109 of the Russian Criminal  Code, which deals with infliction of death through carelessness,”  Sochi city police spokesman Alexander Erenburg told the Interfax news agency.