Tuesday, 22 January, 2019

Russian infant rescued alive 35 hours after building collapse in subzero cold

Press office of the governor of the Chelyabinsk region Press office of the governor of the Chelyabinsk region
Leonard Rios | 01 January, 2019, 16:36

Rescuers in Russian Federation have found an 11-month-old baby girl alive in the rubble of an apartment block that collapsed in a gas blast, after a bitterly cold night in which temperatures dropped to -26C.

Five people were hospitalised with injuries from the collapse in the city about 1,400 kilometres southeast of Moscow, the emergency ministry said.

The regional governor Boris Dubrovsky announced a day of mourning on January 2, with flags lowered and entertainment events cancelled, as the disaster toll set a sombre mood in Russian Federation, where New Year's Eve celebrations are the biggest annual festivities.

A section of the 10-story building in the city of Magnitogorsk collapsed on Monday following an explosion believed to have been triggered by a natural gas leak.

In what emergency services called "a miracle", a baby girl was found alive in the ruins of an apartment block in Magnitogorsk that exploded over a day earlier. The blast completely destroyed 35 flats. Residents left homeless were evacuated to a nearby school.

"It's impossible to continue working in such conditions".

It will take about 24 hours to secure the building, BBC correspondents say.

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The child survived temperatures that fell overnight to around minus 27 degrees Celsius (minus 16 degrees Fahrenheit), TASS reported.

After an all-night search, officials said Tuesday morning they had found seven bodies, all of them adults.

Nonetheless, with weather hovering at around -20C in the Urals city, emergency staff are continuing to blast hot air from heat cannons at the building, and illuminate the remains with a searchlight in hopes of finding more survivors.

Emergencies Minister Yevgeny Zinichev said at a meeting with Mr Putin there were thought to be between 36 and 40 people under the rubble.

"I went out to have a cigarette at quarter-to-six", a local man told Russian television.

The girl is the first person who has been extracted alive apart from those residents who escaped immediately following the suspected gas blast. The walls were gone. "My mother was screaming that she couldn't breathe, and my son was screaming from another corner". The explosion happened before dawn when many people were still asleep.

Such deadly gas explosions are relatively common in Russian Federation where much of the infrastructure dates back to the Soviet era and safety requirements are often ignored.

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