Gas Explosion in Russia Apartment Block Kills 3 People, Many Missing

(Bloomberg) -- Four people were killed and 35 remain unaccounted for after a gas explosion in a residential building in Russia on Monday morning.

Russia’s Investigative Committee launched a criminal case into the incident in Magnitogorsk, about 1,700 kilometers (1,050 miles) east of Moscow. The inquiry will consider all possible versions of what happened, according to a statement. “Currently, the priority version is an explosion of utility gas,” it said.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin traveled to Magnitogorsk, where he held meetings at a crisis center near the collapsed building and visited a hospital, according to live broadcasts of the visit. The president will also meet with people affected by the explosion and with regional authorities.

The blast at about 6 a.m. local time destroyed one of the entrances to the nine-story structure, damaging 48 apartments in the second-biggest city of the Chelyabinsk region near the Ural mountains, according to a statement from the Emergency Ministry’s regional department. Search and rescue operations were being carried out.

There were 111 people registered as residents and nine more people rented apartments in the complex, Interfax reported, citing the Chelyabinsk regional governor’s press office. Thirty-five people remain unaccounted for, including seven children, Governor Boris Dubrovskiy told Putin at the crisis center, according to a transcript on the Kremlin’s website.

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