Nine dead after gas explosion destroys apartment block
At least nine people died after a gas explosion tore through a five-story apartment block on Sakhalin Island in Russia, on Saturday, the regional governor, Valery Limarenko, has said.
Sandwiched between the Sea of Okhotsk and the Sea of Japan, Sakhalin is north of the Japanese territory of Hokkaido and has a population of around 500,000.
The incident took place in the small town of Tymovskoye. Videos from the scene show that several apartments were entirely destroyed by the blast.
Limarenko wrote on his Telegram channel that four children are among the victims.
He added that the apartment complex had 33 residents, two of whom are still trapped under the rubble, as rescuers continue to look for survivors.
Nine people were also injured, according to TASS news agency.
TASS cited emergency services as saying that the building does not have a central gas heating system, and a faulty gas tank is believed to be the cause of the explosion. A criminal investigation has been launched.