Death toll grows to 33 in Russian apartment block collapse
After 2 frigid nights of searching, prospects of finding missing people alive appear dim
Russian emergency officials say more bodies have been pulled from the rubble of a partially collapsed apartment building, bringing the death toll since Monday morning to 33.
State news agencies Tass and RIA-Novosti reported that five more bodies were recovered late Wednesday in the vast heap of concrete rubble in the city of Magnitogorsk, located about 1,700 kilometres east of Moscow.
Six children were among the people killed. An 11-month-old boy who was pulled alive from the wreckage on Tuesday, nearly 36 hours after the building collapsed, was in serious but stable condition in a children's hospital in Moscow. He was flown about 1,400 kilometres to the capital in a plane dispatched by the Health Ministry.
Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova said Wednesday the boy suffered superficial head wounds but no apparent brain damage.
Authorities said that eight people who lived in the building remained unaccounted for.
But the prospects of finding any of them alive in the rubble appeared dim after two frigid nights in which temperatures fell to about –20 C. However, a cat was pulled alive from the wreckage on Wednesday afternoon, about 60 hours after a section of the 10-storey building collapsed.
The Monday predawn disaster came after an explosion that officials say was likely caused by a gas leak.
A day of mourning was declared in the Chelyabinsk region that includes Magnitogorsk, and residents laid flowers and placed candles at the scene. Some Muscovites laid commemorative flowers at the entrance of the office for the regional government's representative in the capital.