10 killed by natural gas explosion in Russia

AP News
Posted: Feb 28, 2012 2:02 PM
10 killed by natural gas explosion in Russia

Ten people have been killed and 12 were injured after a section of a nine-story apartment building in southern Russia collapsed following a natural gas explosion, officials said Tuesday.

Two bodies were pulled from the rubble in the city of Astrakhan late Tuesday, bringing the death toll to 10 and accounting for all those believed missing in Monday's collapse, a duty officer for the emergencies ministry in the city said on condition of anonymity.

Astrakhan is 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) southeast of Moscow.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is running to reclaim the presidency in Sunday's vote, rushed to the explosion site Tuesday in an apparent bid to demonstrate the government's quick response to the accident.

He quickly ordered local authorities to immediately find new apartments for all the residents of other sections of the building, replying to their fears that the entire structure could collapse.

As Putin was inspecting the wreckage, several hundred rescuers continued searching through the debris.

Putin has ordered local gas company officials suspended pending an official probe, and four of the company's workers were detained on charges of violation of fire safety rules.

Explosions caused by leaky gas pipes and canisters in Russian apartment buildings are common.