More bodies were recovered from the rubble of a 10-story residential building in Russia’s Urals, partially destroyed on New Year’s Eve by an explosion. The official death toll has now jumped to 21.
The figure keeps growing as rescue teams attempt to clear all the rubble left by the collapsed structure in the city of Magnitogorsk. Overall, 21 people have been confirmed dead, the Emergencies Ministry said on Wednesday. A three-year-old girl is among the victims, while 20 residents remain missing.
The explosion occurred around 6:00am local time on Monday. It partially destroyed the multi-apartment building, completely collapsing one of its sections. Authorities suspect that a gas leak was the cause of the blast.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, locals began bringing flowers and toys to makeshift memorials set up near the site, and lighting candles there. Different stories also began emerging. One resident, Yevgeny Yurchenko, said he woke up earlier than usual and left just 15 minutes before the explosion, likely escaping death.
“I left the house and went straight to my garage. Then the blast happened,” Yevgeny told local media. He didn’t immediately realize what had happened but quickly noticed how grayish dust began filling the area.
“I came up and looked at my apartment – it was on the 10th floor – and it was simply gone. And I understood that if I hadn’t left, I would be gone too.”
Multiple rescue teams have been working day and night to locate and extract people trapped in the debris. Heat cannons were set up to help those who might still be stuck under the debris to withstand the cold, as the temperature fell to -20C at night.
The use of heavy equipment was halted due to fears of further collapse. Rescuers are currently clearing the rubble manually, but additional equipment was also deployed to the scene, ready to be used if required.
Six people have been rescued so far, including an 11-month-old boy, Vanya, who was miraculously recovered from the rubble alive.
Vanya’s condition is stable for now but remains very serious, Leonid Roshal, who heads the hospital treating the boy, told Gazeta.ru. He sustained multiple injuries and is struggling with hypothermia.
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