Thu | Feb 20, 2020

Russian shopping mall fire kills 64; alarms were silent

Published:Monday | March 26, 2018 | 12:25 PM

MOSCOW (AP) — Witnesses say fire alarms were silent and staff was nowhere to be seen when a fire at a shopping mall packed with children and their parents on the first weekend of the school recess killed 64 people in Russia’s Siberia.

The fire at the Winter Cherry mall in Kemerovo, a city about 3,000 kilometers east of Moscow, was extinguished by Monday morning after burning through the night.

Sixty-four deaths were confirmed after firefighters finished combing through the four floors of the mall, Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov told a televised briefing.

Six of the bodies have not yet been recovered.

Some of the dead were found inside a cinema, which one witness said had been locked shut.

Investigators said Monday that emergency exits were blocked and a security guard turned off the public announcement system when he received a call about the blaze, but they provided no information why that happened.

On Monday morning, Kemerovo residents were bringing flowers, candles, and stuffed animals to a plaza outside the mall, and local hospitals reported an influx of people wanting to donate blood for the victims.

Out of 23 victims whose bodies have been identified, eight are children, the emergency officials said.

Thirteen people have been hospitalised.