UPDATE 1-Russian apartment block hit by gas blast during lockdown

(Updates number of casualties)

MOSCOW, April 4 (Reuters) - A gas explosion at a residential block near Moscow killed two people and injured six on Saturday, destroying several floors of the building, Russia’s emergency ministry said.

The blast occurred in the first week that residents of Moscow and the surrounding region have been required to stay at home as part of quarantine measures aimed at stopping the spread of the new coronavirus.

The explosion took place in the town of Orekhovo-Zuyevo, 85 km east (50 miles) of Moscow, on the third floor of the five-storey block, the ministry said.

One person was initially reported killed.

“Another victim has been found under the rubble of the residential building in Orekhovo-Zuyevo,” the emergency ministry said in a later statement, adding that this brought the death toll to two, while six people were injured.

Images posted on social media showed a blackened building with several caved-in floors, and clouds of dust enveloping a playground and parking lot below.

Such explosions are not uncommon in Russian residential buildings, many of which were constructed during the Soviet era and have poor safety regulations regarding gas use.

A gas explosion in a 10-storey apartment block in the city of Magnitogorsk on Dec. 31, 2018, killed 39 people. Another gas blast in the same city last week caused a fire to break out in six apartments and killed two people. (Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov; Writing by Polina Ivanova; Editing by Pravin Char and Angus MacSwan)