Around-the-clock search for 32 missing in Russia gas blast re-starts after collapsing debris removed
Work had to be suspended on Tuesday evening in the Urals city, after more than 36 hours of continuous digging. At that point only nine bodies and one survivor – a baby boy – with as many as 32 victims possibly still trapped.
The explosion on the morning of December 31 mainly affected the flats around one stairwell of a 12-entrance Soviet apartment block in the industrial Urals city.Also on rt.com Baby rescued after over 24 hours under rubble of Magnitogorsk house blast (VIDEO)
Authorities immediately feared that the nearby flats in the 10-story block were also on the verge of collapse, but pushed through the risk during New Year’s Eve, in a race to save people in freezing weather.
Finally carried out, dismantling of some – not all - dangerous debris has created yet more rubble on top of the existing pile, slowing down the rescuers, who will once again work all the way through the night in shifts.
The press secretary of the governor of the Chelyabinsk region, which includes Magnitogorsk, said it was “impossible” to predict how long it would take to dig to the bottom. Earlier his boss, governor Boris Dubrovskiy predicted that on-site work would take “several more days.”
Meanwhile the criminal investigation over potential negligence has been handed over to the Particularly Important Cases department in Moscow, with those responsible facing potential jail terms if found guilty. Russia’s top official investigator, Aleksandr Bastrykin, who became the latest top Russian official to visit the site on Tuesday, said that he will chair the initial meeting.
Multiple reports in the Russian media said that residents inside the apartment block, which was built in 1973, repeatedly complained to their communal services over the strong smell of gas.
An impromptu memorial has now appeared outside the police cordon that surrounds house 164 on Karl Marx Avenue, with a string of people leaving candles, flowers and wrapped New Year presents to those caught in the tragedy. Several have braved the weather and stood outside for hours, in the hope of hearing of more people being saved.