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4 Apr, 2020 10:54

Section of apartment building collapses due to gas explosion in Moscow Region

Section of apartment building collapses due to gas explosion in Moscow Region

Three people have died in a town east of Moscow after a powerful explosion caused part of the structure of a five-story "Khrushchevka" building to collapse. A gas leak is being blamed for the incident.

The blast took place on Saturday afternoon in Orekhovo-Zuyevo, a town of 118,000 people around 80km from the Russian capital. Images making the rounds on social media show the entire section – from just under the roof all the way down to the first floor – reduced to rubble.

The type of structure involved is known as a Khrushchevka - three to five floor prefabricated complexes hastily erected in the 1960's to manage a post-Stalin era housing crisis in Moscow - named for the eponymous Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet leader at the time. In other parts of the USSR, they were constructed for decades after and millions of people still reside in these buildings, many of which are considered to be past their shelf-life. 

With this in mind, Moscow authorities have been demolishing Khrushchevka in what has been described as the biggest urban demolition project ever. It's understood that 10% of Moscow's housing will be replaced under the scheme instigated by Mayor Sergey Sobyanin. The plan was met resistance from some residents who object to the idea of moving to larger complexes in different locations

The Emergencies Ministry, which dispatched several fire engines and rescuers to the site, says it was caused by a gas leak on the 3rd floor. The entire building is being evacuated.

At least three people were killed and several injured in Saturday's tragedy. These type of incidents are not unusual in Russia. Back in 2018, an apartment block in Magnitogorsk, a city near the Ural mountains, partially collapsed, leaving 39 dead. The cause was also said to be a gas explosion. In 2012, at least ten died in similar blast in the southern city of Astrakhan. 

Three of the injured were taken to an intensive care units. Investigators have launched an inquiry into the blast, deploying detectives and a forensics team.

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