January 9, 2008 / 9:26 AM / 12 years ago

Russia gas blast kills eight, seven missing

(Updates with new death toll, details)

MOSCOW, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Eight people were killed and seven were missing after a suspected gas explosion on Wednesday in an apartment building in the Russian city of Kazan, local emergency services said.

"Rescue and recovery teams have stopped combing through the debris. At this moment, we can say eight people were killed," said Svetlana Lebedeva, emergency services spokeswoman in the city, around 800 km (500 miles) east of Moscow.

She did not clarify if rescue works would continue later.

Seven tenants of the three-storey building were unaccounted for, she said, adding their chances of survival under the rubble were slim in temperatures of about minus 20 Celsius (minus 4 Fahrenheit).

She said there was hope the missing were away at the time. Wednesday is Russia’s first working day after 10 days of New Year and Orthodox Christmas holidays.

At least two people were rescued alive from the ruins, the emergencies services spokeswoman said.

Russian television showed emergency workers removing large chunks of debris from the remains of the devastated building, which was reduced to a pile of broken concrete and steel.

"We found our grandmother but we are still missing our grandfather and our seven-year-old girl," one unidentified woman who lived in the building said on Vesti-24 television channel.

Gas explosions have become commonplace in Russia’s ageing apartment buildings. (Reporting by Tatiana Ustinova; Additional reporting by Dmitry Solovyov; Writing by Conor Sweeney and Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Stephen Weeks)



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