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Seven dead, dozens trapped after gas explosion at Russian apartments

01 January 2019

Some 110 people lived in the building, said the RIA news agency, citing the emergencies ministry. Another four people, including two children, were hospitalized, officials said.

"We must work as quickly as we can as temperatures don't give us any time to linger", Deputy Emergency Minister Pavel Baryshev said during a conference call with local officials.

The mayor of Magnitogorsk told the state-run TASS news agency that 38 people were missing, adding that it was not clear if they were in the building at the time of the collapse.

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They say 79 people are missing.

Temperatures in Magnitogorsk were expected to plunge to minus 23 Celsius on New Year's night, the biggest holiday of the year in Russian Federation. President Vladimir Putin arrived in the city to oversee the rescue efforts.

Hundreds of rescue workers raced bitterly cold weather in Russia's Ural Mountains region Monday as they searched for survivors in the hulking concrete blocks from a partially collapsed apartment building where at least four people died.

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They said some residents could have been buried under debris after Monday's accident.

The blast, thought to have been caused by a gas leak, damaged 48 apartments in a nine-story building in Magnitogorsk, an industrial city in the Urals some 1,700 km east of Moscow, the emergencies ministry said.

Almost 1,400 rescuers searched for people who might be buried under building debris in temperatures of -17 C. The forecast called for temperatures to plunge to -24 C overnight.

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Such deadly gas explosions are relatively common in Russian Federation where much of the infrastructure dates back to the Soviet era and safety requirements are often ignored.

Seven dead, dozens trapped after gas explosion at Russian apartments