Four dead, 68 missing in Russia apartment block explosion

Posted at 5:51 AM, Dec 31, 2018

At least four people are dead and dozens missing after a suspected gas explosion ripped through an apartment building in southern Russia on Monday, state media reported.

Russia's emergencies ministry told Tass news agency that four people had been pulled alive from the partly collapsed block in Magnitogorsk, an industrial city in Russia's Chelyabinsk region near the border with Kazakhstan.

Sixty-eight residents were still missing from the high-rise, home to some 120 people, Governor of the Chelyabinsk Region Boris Dubrovsky said in a post on Telegram, according to Tass.

Search and rescue efforts are underway for people still trapped inside, with over 400 emergency workers searching through the rubble.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has dispatched Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova to the city, Tass reported.

The local branch of Russia's Federal Security Service said the blast was believed to have been caused by a gas explosion.

Gas blasts have become a relatively common occurrence in Russia over recent years as the country struggles to cope with aging Soviet-era infrastructure and loose safety requirements, according to Reuters .