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Kremlin says Putin keeping close eye on probe into Kemerovo shopping mall fire

The blaze took the lives of 64 people

MOSCOW, March 28. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to monitor the investigation into the Kemerovo shopping mall fire and receive information about the provision of aid to the affected, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

"During the day, he will continue to receive information about progress in the investigation into the Kemerovo tragedy and the measures being taken to provide medical help and other kinds of assistance to the affected," he noted, adding that reports would be presented to the president on Wednesday.

Peskov declined to evaluate the steps that regional authorities had taken after the Sunday fire and that were subject to strong criticism.

"I would like to point to what the president said yesterday at a meeting with members of a civic action group at the mortuary of the Forensic Examiner's Office, where they were they were checking the lists [of the victims]," the Kremlin spokesman said. "Putin said that it was inappropriate to announce any decisions and voice evaluations in front of cameras, while the main thing was to figure out what had happened," the presidential spokesman added.

Peskov also said that the final number of the fire victims would become known after the investigation was over.

"The investigation is still underway so as you understand… the final number will be made public after it is complete," he said.

The Kremlin spokesman noted that the city of Kemerovo was currently engulfed in grief. "The president went there yesterday and we accompanied him. The city is overcome with grief, so it is only natural that under the circumstances, rumors are spreading fast but people have the right to ask questions," Peskov stressed. He said that the activities of the civic action group were aimed at dispelling the rumors about the victims number. "You can see that the president promptly arranged visits to the mortuaries so that people could see for themselves," the Kremlin spokesman added.

Peskov pointed out that "today, Russia is observing a day of national mourning over the Kemerovo fire victims." "We once again convey our condolences to all those who lost their loved ones in this tragic incident," he said.

Kemerovo shopping mall fire

A fire erupted on the top floor of the Zimnyaya Vishnya (or Winter Cherry) four-storey shopping mall in the Siberian city of Kemerovo on March 25, eventually engulfing an area of 1,500 square meters. According to recent reports, the blaze killed 64 people, including 41 children.