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Russian Federation mall fire: Search for victims called off

29 Марта 2018

The catastrophic blaze engulfed the Zimnyaya Vishnya (or Winter Cherry) shopping mall in Kemerovo on March 25. Wednesday was declared a day of national mourning and vigils were held across Russia, Tass news agency reported.

In Moscow, around 2,000 people gathered on Pushkin Square in mourning on Tuesday evening, leaving flowers, lighting candles in the shape of the word "Kemerovo" and letting off white balloons.

Kemerovo, a city of about half a million people, has been left reeling by the tragedy - one of the deadliest blazes in Russian Federation in recent years, according to state media.

About 660 firefighters worked to put out flames, among which no victims were reported, even though the fire covered some 1,600 square meters and the roof of the facility collapsed completely.

Vladimir Chernov, the Vice Governor of Kemerovo region had difficulty to explain why 67 claims about missing people were filed to the Investigative Committee of Russian Federation. According to recent reports, the blaze killed 64 people, including 41 children, and another 76 people were injured.

Security guards, supposed to help with any emergency evacuation, were reportedly among the first to flee when the fire broke out.

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The incident, which has cut short lives of so many people, including children, has deeply shocked the country and caused a huge worldwide reaction, with world leaders conveying condolences to the families and friends of those who have died.

Meanwhile, Putin termed the mall as "criminal negligence".

A number of children stuck inside the mall shared goodbye messages on Russian social-media platform VKontake before their accounts went silent. Some of the victims, many of them young children, died inside a locked movie theatre.

According to Interfax, Aleksandr Mamontov, the Head of General Department of Emergency Service in Kemerovo claimed that 27 bodies were already identified.

Regional authorities have come in for particular criticism since the regional governor Aman Tuleyev - who lost his niece in the fire - has not visited the scene nor met angry residents.

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Russian Federation mall fire: Search for victims called off