A Russian Orthodox priest conducts a requiem for the victims of a fire in a multi-story shopping center in the Siberian city of Kemerovo, about 3,000 kilometers (1,900 miles) east of Moscow, Russia, Monday, March 26, 2018. Russia’s top investigative body says over 50 people are confirmed dead in a fire at a shopping mall in Siberia. The fire at the four-story Winter Cherry mall in the Siberian city of Kemerovo was extinguished by Monday morning after burning through the night. (AP Photo)

Russian shopping mall fire kills 64; no alarms reported

The fire at the four-story Winter Cherry mall in the Siberian city of Kemerovo was extinguished by Monday morning after burning through the night.

With the fire alarms silent and staff reportedly nowhere to be seen, a fire at a shopping mall packed with children and their parents on the first weekend of the school recess killed 64 people in Russia’s Siberia.

The fire at the Winter Cherry mall in Kemerovo, a city about 3,000 kilometres (1,900 miles) east of Moscow, was extinguished by Monday morning after burning through the night. Firefighters were still recovering bodies as parts of the buildings were still smouldering. Some of the dead were found inside a cinema, which one witness said had been locked shut.

Investigators said Monday that emergency exits were blocked and a security guard turned off the public announcement system when he received a call about the blaze.

On Monday morning, Kemerovo residents were bringing flowers, candles and stuffed animals to a plaza outside the mall, and local hospitals reported an influx of people wanting to donate blood for the victims.

Sixty-four deaths were confirmed after the firefighters finished combing through the four floors of the mall, Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov told a televised briefing. Six of the bodies have not yet been recovered. Puchkov would not immediately say how many of the victims were children as only 17 people have been identified.

Twelve people have been hospitalized. Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova, who visited the Keremovo hospital where the victims were receiving treatment, said on Russian state television that the patient in the gravest condition is an 11-year-old boy who jumped out of a window from the fourth floor. The boy’s parents and younger sister died in the fire, Skvortsova said.

Some 200 animals are also believed to have died in the mall’s petting zoo. The zoo’s manager told the Tass news agency that the animals included rabbits, turtles, pigs, goats and rodents.

Russia’s top investigative body said Monday afternoon that they are searching for a security officer who appears to have turned off the PA system when he received a call about the blaze.

Four people have been detained in connection with the deadly, fire including one of the mall’s tenants. The investigators did not give the cause of the fire but said they have obtained evidence proving “flagrant violations” that could have contributed to the heavy loss of life, including the fact that the fire escapes were blocked.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday it was too early to draw conclusions about whether local officials failed in Kemerovo.

Related: US expels 60 Russian diplomats, shudders Seattle consulate

Witness testimony indicated that the fire alarm did not go off and that staff did not arrange for the evacuation at the shopping mall, which was converted from a former confectionery factory in 2013.

Winter Cherry was one of Kemerovo’s most popular entertainment centres for children, with its own indoor skating rink, petting zoo and trampolines. Kemerovo residents said the mall was packed with children and their parents.

The Ekho Mosvky radio station on Monday quoted witnesses who said the fire alarm did not go off and that the mall’s staff did not organize the evacuation.

Anna Zarechneva who was on the top floor where the fire started, watching a movie with her husband and son, said they only found out about the fire when a man ran into the theatre shouting.

“We didn’t hear the fire alarm, they even didn’t turn on the light during the show,” she said. “That movie could have been the last for us, I’ve only just realized that.”

Alexander Lillevyali lost three daughters, 11-year-old twins and a 5-year-old, who were in a cinema hall on the top floor watching a cartoon.

Lillevyali told the Meduza news website that one of his daughters called him, saying that they could smell the smoke but could not get out because the door was locked.

“I was shouting into the phone, telling her to get out but there was nothing I could do — the fire was in front of me,” he said.

The Prosecutor General’s Office on Monday ordered all shopping malls in Russia to be checked for fire safety features.

Russian companies routinely complain about excessive checks from various government agencies, which often abuse elaborate rules and regulations to pressure businesses. As a result, many companies prefer to pay bribes instead of complying with outdated and excessive regulations, including fire safety rules.

Related: 6 killed, 74 injured in massive London high-rise blaze

Related: Death and destruction, hope and heroism in California fires

___

Nataliya Vasilyeva, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Ministry denies request for air quality monitoring in Revelstoke

Revelstoke City Council’s request that an air quality monitoring system be re-established… Continue reading

More wildfires discovered near Lumby, Cherryville

Canadian Armed Troops in Okanagan, Mabel Creek blaze creeps towards lake

Naramata firefighters diverted after fires breaches Burns Lake camp

The crew was sent to Vanderhoof after a wildfire reportedly overtook a camp near Burns Lake

UPDATE: Kelowna’s crying judge refuses to pull herself from case

Judge Monica McParland has refused to pull herself off the case.

Okanagan water board seeks mussels funding

Okanagan Basin Water Board sends request to new federal fisheries minister

Armed Troops in Okanagan to help firefighters

Canadian Armed Forces arrived in Vernon Thursday, being deployed to West Kelowna fire

Vehicle accident closes highway near Enderby

Highway 97A is expected to reopen at 10 a.m.

Thousands to attend funeral service for officers killed in Fredericton shooting

Hundreds of officials marched in the parade, which included massed band, several police motorcycles

VIDEO: Ground crews keep a close eye on largest B.C. wildfire

Originally estimated to be 79,192 hectares, officials said more accurate mapping shows smaller size

Vancouver Island woman to attempt historic swim across Juan de Fuca Strait today

Ultra-marathon swimmer Susan Simmons to attempt to swim from Victoria to Port Angeles and back

Evacuation alert issued due to wildfire near Princeton

The RDOS has issued alerts for properties in the electoral areas

Okanagan air quality levels worse than Jodhpur, India

Kelowna - Avoid strenuous exercise outside today

Canadians believe in immigration but concerned about asylum seekers: study

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada paid for study to understand Canadian attitudes

These are the highest-paid actresses of 2018

In its list released this week Forbes said all 10 earned a total of $186 million before tax

Most Read