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MOSCOW, February 29 (Itar-Tass) — The rubble clearing operation at the site of the Astrakhan's explosion has been completed, spokesman for the Southern Regional Centre of the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry (EMERCOM) Oleg Grekov told Itar-Tass.
“Rescuers have fully cleared the debris at the site of the half-destroyed building,” he said.
On Wednesday the Astrakhan region has a day of mourning for the blast victims, declared by governor Alexander Zhilkin in an address to the region’s residents posted on his official website.
The tragedy claimed the lives of 10 people, all of them have been identified, Grekov said. A total of 62 families were made homeless.
A household gas explosion thundered on Monday afternoon in the second section of a six-section nine-storey residential building in Nikolai Ostrovsky Street. The section collapsed completely - from the first to the last floor. The blast also destroyed several apartments in the third section.
On Tuesday, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visited Astrakhan. He talked to the affected house dwellers, answered their questions, and discussed plans for the relocation of the tenants with governor Zhilkin. Putin said all the residents of the house would be given new housing. The authorities will have to give new housing to all the tenants. “We’ll add extra funds, to the tune of 300 million roubles,” Putin said. Astrakhan region governor Alexander Zhilkin said 288 people had lived in the 110-apartment house.
The Russian Investigative Committee reported that a criminal case has been opened against employees of the Astrakhan Gazservis utility: its director, chief engineer, deputy chief engineer and senior foreman of the house networks, as well as against director of the Zhek No 7 utilities management company under the RF Criminal Code Article 219 (violation of fire safety rules, resulting in the death of two or more persons). All of the suspects, except for the chief engineer who is in hospital, were detained.
This criminal case was consolidated with a criminal case opened earlier under Article 216 of the RF Criminal Code (violation of safety regulations during construction and other works). According to investigators, the explosion occurred in an apartment on the third floor. Its tenant was a 53-year-old man who has repeatedly expressed the intention to commit suicide by household gas explosion.