Death toll in Russia shopping mall fire reaches 64

Members of the Emergency Situations Ministry work to extinguish a fire in a shopping mall in the Siberian city of Kemerovo, Russia March 26, 2018. Russian Emergencies Ministry/Handout via REUTERS

The death toll in the fire at the shopping mall in the Siberian city of Kemerovo has reached 64, Russian Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov said Monday.

“Sixty-four is the final number,” Puchkov told reporters.

Russia’s Investigative Committee has later confirmed the death of 64 people in the tragic incident.

The fire broke out at the shopping centre on a busy Sunday afternoon and quickly engulfed the top floor of the building, spreading through a children’s ice-skating rink, play centre and a two-screen cinema.

Images from the scene showed thick black smoke pouring from the white-and-yellow tile shopping centre, as firefighters continued to battle the flames after nightfall from four storey up.

It is still unclear what sparked the fire, which was put out on Sunday evening.

The section of the shopping centre housing the cinema screens collapsed during the fire, Russia’s emergencies ministry reported.

“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. (Sputnik/NAN)

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