At least 37 people were killed in a fire at a shopping center in the Siberian city of Kemerovo on Sunday, a spokesman for the firefighting agency told Russian state media.
State news agency Tass reported that a fire at the Zimnyaya Vishnya — also known as Winter Cherry — shopping mall in central Kemerovo broke out on the top floor of a four story building and consumed an area of approximately 1,600 square meters.
About 69 people, 40 of whom are children, are missing as a result of a fire, a firefighter spokesman said.
Twenty people were saved from the burning building, Tass reported, and about 100 others were evacuated. The fire has been contained, the firefighting agency told Tass, and a criminal case has been opened.
Kemerovo is about 800 kilometers (approximately 500 miles) northeast of the Kazakhstan border.
As the new death toll was announced, a source in the local rescue services said 69 people including 40 children were reported missing, the RIA Novosti agency reported, while the Investigative Committee said it was “verifying information that 35 people could be missing”.
The preliminary findings of the inquiry said the fire started around 1100 GMT in one of the cinema halls and destroyed more than 1,000 square metres of the centre, news agencies reported.
“The roof collapsed in two theatres in the cinema,” the Investigative Committee said.
“This shopping centre on several floors was packed with people mid-day Sunday. No one knows exactly how many people there were inside when the fire broke out,” Alexandre Eremeyev, an official with the local Russian emergency services ministry, said in a statement.
Around 120 people had been evacuated from the burning shopping center , rescuers said.
According to NDTV,The fire was brought under control around 1730 GMT, local emergency officials said, adding that some 300 firefighters and rescue personnel had been sent to the scene.
Russia’s minister of emergency services, Vladimir Putchkov has gone to Kemerovo, RIA Novosti said.