Many children are among the 64 people confirmed to have died in a fire that engulfed a packed shopping and entertainment complex late yesterday afternoon in Russia’s Siberian coal-mining city of Kemerovo.
Ten people are also listed as missing after the blaze, which started on an upper floor of the Winter Cherry complex during school holidays.
Roofs of two cinemas collapsed, according to preliminary information gathered by Russia’s Investigative Committee, reports the BBC.
Witnesses posted on social media videos showing people jumping from windows to survive.
The region’s deputy governor appeared to aim blame for the fire at a child playing with a cigarette lighter.
"The preliminary suspicion is that a child had a cigarette lighter which ignited foam rubber in this trampoline room, and it erupted like gunpowder," said Vladimir Chernov, reports the BBC.
But Russian national broadcaster, Rossiya 24 TV, said an electrical fault was the most likely cause.
Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, Anna Kuznetsova, has blamed negligence, and called for urgent safety checks at similar entertainment complexes.
Four people have been detained for questioning, including the head of the company that manages the shopping centre, according to the Investigative Committee. The owner of the Winter Cherry complex is among those being held.
The fire broke out at around 5pm local time.
Firefighters said the building is still smouldering today, and the remaining structures are at risk of collapse.
At least nine of the bodies found so far are children.
Image: The shopping centre in Kemerovo, Russia, hit by fire on 25 March 2018 (Danil Aikin/TASS via Getty Images)