At least 51 people, including nine children, were killed and 45 others injured in a fire at a shopping center in Kemerovo, the Siberian coal-mining city and the administrative center of Kemerovo Oblast, Russia.
Apart from this, 64 people have been reported missing which include 41 children. Reports state that parts of the building are in danger of crumbling.
Firefighters also issued a “three-five” signal on radio warning the public about the same. An order was also issued to the employees of the Ministry of Emergency Situations (EMERCOM) to leave the areas where they were working and try and extinguish the fire through window openings.
According to a report in BBC News, the fire first started on an upper floor of the Zimnyaya Vishnya “Winter Cherry” shopping mall with many of the victims stuck in a cinema hall.
The first deputy governor of the Kemerovo region, Vladimir Chernov, later clarified that 13 bodies were found in one of the movie halls of the shopping complex. The fire which started at around 5:00 p.m. local time (10:00 a.m. EDT) had the public in panic as videos posted on social media platforms showed people trying to jump from the windows to escape on Sunday.
The cause of the fire is still being investigated by the authorities; however, as many as 660 emergency personnel were reported on the scene for the rescue effort.
“According to preliminary information, the roof collapsed in two cinemas,” said Russia’s Investigative Committee, in a statement.
Deputy Head of the Kemerovo region emergency department Yevgeny Dedyukhin also confirmed that the area of the fire was about 1,500 sq. m.
“The shopping center is a very complex construction. There are a lot of combustible materials,” he said.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs offered their condolences on Twitter to the families and friends of the victims.
Additionally, reports state that most of the bodies that were recovered were quite difficult to identify. However, Dedyukhin said nine of them were confirmed to be children.
Deputy Head of Russia’s National Crisis Management Centre, Andrei Mamchenkov, said a search for 41 more children was still underway. It was reported that the emergency personnel has little to no hope of finding any survivors in the fire.
But, the governor of the Kemerovo region, Aman Tuleyev, confirmed in a meeting at the operational headquarters that families of those killed in the fire would receive a payment of one million rubles ($17,520), reported Life, a Russian news website.
“I made a decision: every family, where there is a deceased, unfortunately, for a million rubles. If it’s two, God forbid then two million rubles. This decision, I already report to you, is accepted,” he said.
Kemerovo is a key coal-producing area in Russia and lies around 2,200 miles east of Moscow. The “Winter Cherry” complex that opened in the year 2013 also includes restaurants, a sauna, a bowling alley and a petting zoo.