At least 64 killed in Russian Federation shopping centre fire

At least 64 people, some children, killed in Russian mall fire

At least 64 people, some children, killed in Russian mall fire

Blocked fire exits, a shut-down alarm system, and "glaring violations" of safety rules exacerbated the human toll of a fire that swept though a busy Siberian shopping mall, killing 64 people as panicked visitors jumped from windows and banged on doors in an attempt to escape, Russian investigators say.

The fire at the four-story Winter Cherry mall in the Siberian city of Kemerovo was extinguished by Monday morning after burning through the night.

The Investigative Committee said it has detained four people for questioning, including the mall's tenant, but would not immediately give the cause of the fire, which started on the top floor on Sunday evening. Dozens of children also were reported missing. She said investigators, who have opened a criminal investigation into the blaze, were looking into other possible violations.

Kemerovo is a coal-mining town 2,200 miles east of Moscow.

The cause of the blaze is not yet known but authorities have launched an investigation.

Winter Cherry was one of Kemerovo's most popular entertainment centers for children, with its own indoor skating rink, petting zoo and trampolines.

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Health Minister Veronika Skortsova said from the scene that 11 people were in hospital, including an 11-year-old boy in a serious condition.

The fire is thought to be the deadliest since 2009 when 156 people were killed in the city of Perm when an indoor pyrotechnics display at a nightclub went wrong. People posted appeals on social media seeking news of their relatives or friends, and authorities set up a centre in a school near the mall to deal with inquiries from people seeking missing family members.

"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. "There were a lot of children, children without parents", said witness Klepova. "I shouted over the phone urging her to try to break out of the hall, but I couldn't do anything, the blaze was already confronting me", he said.

The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres wished speedy recovery to the wounded and extended his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and to the people and government of Russian Federation.

A three-day period of mourning was declared in the region.

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