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MOSCOW, April 3 (Itar-Tass) — The death toll from a fire which broke out at a Moscow market of construction materials on Tuesday has risen to 17, the Moscow branch of the Ministry for Emergency Situations told Itar-Tass on Tuesday afternoon. The bodies of two more victims have been removed from under the debris after the previous media reports put the death toll at 15.
The identity of the victims is being established. Experts are checking the constructions of the building destroyed by fire. A criminal case has been opened on charges of violation of fire precaution rules which entailed human death.
Most of the victims are citizens of the CIS countries who worked at the market, the source said. Moscow police specified that they were citizens of Tajikistan who both worked and lived on the territory of the market. The Russian Federal Migration Service (FMS) said in a preliminary report that the migrants who lived on the territory of the market most likely had been staying in the Russian Federation illegally.
The fire broke out in a two-storied building which adjoined a market warehouse at around 5.00 a.m. Tuesday. The building had been turned into a kind of a hostel for the migrants. The bodies of the victims were found when fragments of the burnt building were being removed after the fire.
Preliminary reports said the fire might have been caused by excessive heat produced by an electric heater.
Following the incident Minister for Emergency Situations Sergei Shoigu suggested conducting joint patrols with FMS to inspect places where the workers lived under inadmissible conditions. "We should find out who settled the workers there. The place is not fit to live in; most of the fire victims were precisely the people who lived there," Shoigu said.
"The people died. Arguments as to whether they were workers or "Ostarbeiters" are no excuse," Shoigu stressed. "If the people live there they should be ensured proper conditions," the minister said.