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Putin indicates criminal negligence among causes of Kemerovo shopping mall fire

March 27, 7:20 updated at: March 27, 8:20 UTC+3 KEMEROVO

The death toll from a blaze that ravaged a shopping mall in the Siberian city of Kemerovo has reached 64

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© Alexei Nikolskiy/Russian Presidential press service/TASS

KEMEROVO, March 27. /TASS/. President Vladimir Putin named criminal negligence and carelessness among the causes of the fire that broke out on Sunday in the Zimnyaya Vishnya (or Winter Cherry) shopping mall in the Siberian city of Kemerovo taking lives of 60 people, he said at a meeting in Kemerovo.

"What is happening here - this was not a combat situation, not an unexpected methane outburst in a mine. People came to rest, children. We talk about demographics and lose so many people because of what? Because of criminal negligence and carelessness," Putin said.

He also offered his condolences to the families and friends of the victims, starting the meeting with a moment of silence.

Putin instructed Chairman of the Russian Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin to give a legal assessment of the actions of officials in office at the time of the fire in the shopping mall.

"It is necessary to give a legal assessment of the actions of every official. You cannot get any certificates without money, but with money everything can be signed," Putin said.

Bastrykin, in turn, said that the Investigative Committee seized a large number of documents that are currently being studied as part of the criminal case investigation. The building of the confectionery factory, built in 1968, was remodeled in 2013 into a shopping center, probably with irregularities, he noted.

The fire started on the top floor of the four-storey Zimnyaya Vishnya (or Winter Cherry) shopping mall on March 25, engulfing an area of some 1,500 square meters. According to the most recent data, a total of 64 people were killed in the fire, 60 injured were treated in hospitals, 15 of them were hospitalized and 40 received outpatient care. The bodies of 25 victims have already been identified, including 13 children.

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