MOSCOW, February 27 (Itar-Tass) ——Eleven people, including two children, have been injured in a gas explosion, which went off in an apartment block in Astrakhan, the press service of the southern regional center for emergency situations told Itar-Tass. The victims were removed from under the debris of the ruined building and six of them hospitalized, it said. A stairway in the building, where the explosion went off, has fully collapsed from the ground to the top floor, it said.
The explosion went off in a nine-storied apartment block located at 150, Nikolai Ostrovsky street. The building, which had six stairways, lost one of them now; fourteen tenants have been evacuated from the house.
A group of rescuers working on the site will be reinforced after more rescuers from Rostov- on-Don, Volgograd and Kalmykia sent to the emergency area join the rescue operations.
Preliminary reports said the incident might have been caused by gas explosion in a shop on the ground floor of the building, spokesman for Russian Investigative Committee Vladimir Markin told Itar-Tass.
A criminal case has been opened on charges of “violation of safety rules during mining, construction and other operations," Markin said.