MOSCOW – As many as 40 people could still be trapped in the rubble of a Russian apartment block that partially collapsed in a gas explosion on Monday, killing at least seven people, news agencies reported.
The blast, thought to have been caused by a gas leak, damaged 48 apartments in a nine-storey building in Magnitogorsk, an industrial city in the Urals some 1,700 km (1,050 miles) east of Moscow, the emergencies ministry said.
President Vladimir Putin flew into Magnitogorsk late on Monday afternoon, visiting the injured in hospital and meeting with local authorities, state television showed.
Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova told state television that the chances of finding survivors were fading as the day wore on.
The blast tore through the building at around 6 a.m. (0100 GMT) when many residents were asleep, RIA news agency reported. Monday was a public holiday in Russia.
There have been several similar incidents in Russia in recent years due to aging infrastructure and poor safety regulations regarding gas usage. (Reuters)