4 dead, 79 missing after gas explosion at high rise in Russian Federation

Russian officials said the 10-month-old boy had been saved thanks to being in a cradle and warmly wrapped up. – AFP

Russian rescuers are searching for people trapped under the rubble of a city apartment block that partly collapsed in a suspected gas blast, killing at least three.

Rescuers hunted for survivors on Monday after a gas explosion tore through a high-rise residential building in central Russian Federation, killing at least four people and leaving dozens unaccounted for.

The blast rocked the apartment complex at around 4 a.m. local time, completely collapsing one of its sections. A search and rescue effort is underway involving 469 emergency workers.

The country's top investigative agency, the Investigative Committee, said an explosion triggered by a gas leak apparently caused the collapse in the industrial city of Magnitogorsk.

President Vladimir Putin rushed to the city, where the blast left hundreds of residents homeless in freezing temperatures on New Year's Eve - the biggest holiday of the year in Russian Federation.

Almost 1,400 rescuers were searching for those who could have been buried under debris in temperatures of -17 degrees Celsius, which are forecast to plunge to -24 degrees Celsius overnight.

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Emergency officials admitted that they were racing against time as the frigid weather reduces the chances to find anyone alive.

The regional governor, Boris Dubrovsky, told Putin that authorities published the missing persons list in the hope they were somewhere else when the explosion happened and would report their whereabouts.

The Kremlin said that President Vladimir Putin has been briefed on the situation.

They say 79 people are missing.

A further 10 people were pulled from the rubble of a collapsed section, and 16 others, including seven children, were evacuated from nearby parts of the building without injuries.

Gas explosions in Russian homes and businesses are common, and they are usually blamed on neglect of safety rules or poor maintenance.

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