- Rescuers battle to save 11 unaccounted for people
- Blast thought to have been caused by natural gas
- Putin orders special commission to investigate
- Poor state of buildings mean gas explosions in Russia are common
Last updated at 9:15 AM on 28th February 2012
This was the moment a blast ripped through an old Soviet-style block in southern Russia today sending it crashing down like a house of cards.
The nine-storey building in the city of Astrakhan, 800 miles south east of Moscow, collapsed in an explosion believed to be caused by natural gas.
Two people died following the blast and 12 people were injured.
A further 11 people living there haven’t been accounted for. Rescue workers are searching through the rubble for more possible victims.
The explosion, captured on film, punched a hole through the bottom three floors of the apartment block in southern Russia
After the bottom three floors disintegrated, the top six started to collapse
People then watched in horror as the whole section collapsed in a heap like a house of cards
The ITAR-Tass news agency quoted regional Investigative Committee spokeswoman Aanna Konyaeva as saying the blast first blew out a lower section of the building.
As people rushed to help, the upper six stories collapsed.
Explosions of gas canisters in Russian residences and businesses are common because antiquated infrastructure has not been modernised in the last decades.
A nine-storey apartment block in southern Russia collapsed after a gas explosion as rescuers battled to find up to 14 people still feared trapped under the rubble, the emergencies ministry said.
Rescuers search through the debris of an apartment building after an explosion in Astrakhan, Russia
It’s believed the explosion was caused by natural gas. Such gas explosions are common in Russia
Rescue workers are searching through the rubble for more possible victims of the blast in southern Russia
The block, part of a housing complex in the southern city of Astrakhan, disintegrated and collapsed in a heap of rubble and dust after the explosion blew out its lower floors, pictures on state television showed.
The cause of the blast, which took place around lunchtime, is believed to have been a gas leak, the emergencies ministry said on its website. Some reports said the leak could have been prompted by an attempted suicide inside the housing block.
‘The fate of 14 people is still unknown,’ said Russia’s deputy emergencies minister Pavel Popov, quoted by the Interfax news agency.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordered the creation of a special commission to examine the causes of the disaster
The health ministry said 12 people were injured, including two children who are among seven people still hospitalised.
The emergencies ministry said it was despatching two giant Ilyushin-76 planes to Astrakhan with rescue specialists and machinery on board.
Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu also arrived at the scene.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordered the creation of a special commission under Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov to examine the causes of the disaster, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a statement to Russian news agencies.