Russian Federation mall fire ignited by ejected youths, business owner says

Firefighters extinguish a fire at a shopping mall in Kemerovo

Firefighters extinguish a fire at a shopping mall in Kemerovo

Thousands of angry residents are rallying in the Russian city of Kemerovo to demand a full probe following a fire in a shopping mall that killed at least 64 people, many of them children.

"Twelve people, including two children, are staying in the hospital, and 67 received ambulatory medical treatment, including 25 children", a headquarters representative said.

A group of firefighters walk near the scene of the multi-story shopping center after a fire, in the Siberian city of Kemerovo, about 3,000 kilometers (1,900 miles) east of Moscow, Russia, Monday, March 26, 2018.

Putin also instructed head of Russia's Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin to give legal assessment of the actions of all officials who let the deadly Kemerovo shopping mall fire happen. March 28 was declared a day of national mourning.

An employee of the Kemerovo EMERCOM spoke about the search and rescue operation at "Winter Cherry" shopping mall in Kemerovo, which was destroyed as a result of a massive fire. Investigators have not confirmed the cause of the fire, but the high death toll has been blamed on reported shortcomings in the mall's safety procedures. Some of the dead were found inside a cinema, which one witness said had been locked shut. Rescuers have struggled to recover bodies after the top floor collapsed and have said identifications may have to be done via DNA, according to Reuters. "We're talking about demography and losing so many people".

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The inspections, targeting malls in Russian Federation with "entertainment centers" and movie theaters, are scheduled to wrap up on April 16.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to comment yesterday on the regional authorities' actions, telling reporters that "Putin has said that it is hardly appropriate to issue hasty judgements".

Five people have been detained, and investigators say fire exits had been blocked and fire alarms were not working when the fire tore through the Winter Cherry mall's upper floors.

The tragedy has already launched a series of checks into compliance with fire safety regulations across the country.

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