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Astrakhan region mourns house blast victims

February 29, 2012, 11:57 UTC+3
The blast killed ten people and left 62 families homeless
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ASTRAKHAN, February 29 (Itar-Tass) — The Astrakhan region is mourning the persons killed in the collapse of the apartment building, which was caused by a gas explosion. The day of mourning was announced by the regional governor Alexander Zhilkin, in a statement to the residents of the province placed on his official website.

The blast killed ten people and left 62 families homeless.

"I'm conveying my condolences to the relatives of the killed and injured people. I regard the accident as personal grief and announce February 29 the day of mourning in the Astrakhan region

"Everything is being done to ascertain the cause of the tragedy, punish the culprits, and, most importantly, help the people who had this terrible misfortune," the regional leader emphasized.

A gas explosion ripped through the 2nd section of the 6-section nine-storey apartment building in Nikolai Ostrovsky Street on Monday afternoon. The section fully collapsed, from the first to the last floor. Several apartments were ruined in the 3rd section.

On Tuesday Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visited Astrakhan. He talked with the victims, answered their questions and discussed new housing plans for the tenants of the damaged house with governor Zhilkin.

The debris clearing operation continues at the scene. Police say they ensure the safety of all the participants in the rescue operation and the evacuated tenants.

The Investigative Committee reported that criminal proceedings were opened under Article 219 of Russia's Criminal Code /"violation of fire safety rules which resulted in the death of two or more persons"/. All the suspects - director of the Astrakhangazservice company, its chief engineer and his deputy, the house networks repairs foreman and director of the ZhEK 7 management company - have been detained.

The criminal case was polled with another case opened under Article 216 of Russia's Criminal Code /"violation of safely rules during construction and other works"/.

According to the investigators, the blast occurred in an apartment on the 3rd floor. The tenant, a 53-year-old man, repeatedly talked about his intention to take his own life in a gas explosion.

Governor Alexander Zhilin said a park will be laid out in the place of the ruined house.

"A decision has been made to move all the tenants to new apartments. All the families that lost their property in collapsed apartments will be paid compensations. No construction sites will appear in this place, instead, a town park will be laid out," the governor said in his blog on Wednesday.

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