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World leaders express condolences after Siberian shopping mall tragedy

March 26, 10:06 updated at: March 26, 13:27 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Fire in a Siberian shopping mall killed at least 64 people

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© Danil Aikin/TASS

MOSCOW, March 26. /TASS/. World leaders have expressed their condolences after the fire at a shopping mall in the Siberian city of Kemerovo killed more than 60 people on Sunday.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic sent a telegram with condolences over the tragedy in Kemerovo and an offer to provide assistance to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Please accept my sincere condolences over the tragedy in Kemerovo where the awful fire claimed many lives. We were deeply shocked that many children were among those dead. Serbia, as a small country but a big friend, may provide any kind of assistance, we are ready to do what we can," the telegram said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was "shocked" by the footage from the fire scene and the reports about the accident, German Government Spokesman Steffen Seibert said. Merkel "shares the grief of Kemerovo citizens and offers her condolences to them."

Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev sent a telegram to Putin on Monday, saying he was very saddened to hear the news about the tragedy. "On behalf of the people of Kazakhstan and me personally I want to convey the words of condolences and sympathy to the relatives and friends of those dead. I wish a speedy recovery to all those injured and wish them to return to their families."

The leaders of Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Armenia, Sooronbay Jeenbekov, Ilkham Aliyev, Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Serzh Sargsyan, also offered condolences to the Russian president over the deadly fire.

Moldovan President Igor Dodon sent a telegram to Putin saying he was deeply saddened. "The report about the death of children in this terrible tragedy is especially regrettable."

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying told TASS on Monday that the people and government of China extend their deepest condolences over numerous deaths in the shopping mall fire.

Spokesperson for the US Embassy in Moscow Maria Olson also wrote on Twitter: "Terrible, terrible tragedy in Siberia. Our hearts go out to the victims and families."

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders also extended condolences over the tragedy on Twitter. "Very sad to hear the news of the deadly fire in #Kemerovo, #Russia. I express my sincere condolences to the relatives and friends of the victims."

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Secretary General Thomas Greminger tweeted: "Saddened by the tragedy in #Kemerovo, #Russia. My deepest condolences to all affected. I wish those injured a quick recovery." OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Desir earlier tweeted: "Terrible news from #Kemerovo. My deepest condolences to the family and friends of the victims of the fire of the shopping center."

The United Kingdom’s Ambassador to Russia Laurie Bristow wrote on the Embassy’s Twitter page: "My thoughts are with the families & friends of those who have been affected by the terrible fire #Kemerovo shopping mall fire. I offer my sincere condolences for all those who have sadly died & hope those injured will recover soon."

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite also extended her condolences to the Russian people over the tragic fire which resulted in numerous deaths. She also wished strength to the victims’ families.

The French Embassy in Moscow also wrote on its official website: "We are shocked by the awful tragedy which occurred in Kemerovo and the death of many children." The Delegation of the European Union to Russia published a similar post on Facebook.

Earlier, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz expressed his condolences over the tragedy. "My condolences to the families and friends of the victims of the terrible fire in the shopping mall in Kemerovo," the Austrian chancellor wrote on his Twitter account. "It is tragic that so many children are dead or missing," Chancellor Kurz stated. "I wish a speedy recovery to those injured."

Condolences also came from Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics and Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs.

The fire at the Zimnyaya Vishnya (Winter Cherry) shopping mall in central Kemerovo erupted on Sunday on the top floor of the four-storey building engulfing an area of some 1,500 square meters. According to the latest data, 64 people were killed, many of them children, and more than 40 others sought medical assistance.

Russian Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov said the source of fire had not been established so far.

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