8 die in gas explosion

8 people die in a gas explosion in a Russian apartment building

ASTRAKHAN, Russia | February 28, 2012

At least eight people died and 12 were reported missing after a gas explosion in an apartment building in the Russian city of Astrakhan, officials said.

The blast Monday destroyed the third floor of a nine-floor building and three other sections of the building later collapsed, RIA Novosti reported Tuesday.

Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said the likely causes were either safety violations during repairs or a suicide attempt.

Investigators have opened a case against the building's engineers on fire safety violation charges, the Investigative Committee said.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, visiting Astrakhan, planned to tour the explosion site and meet with some of the residents, officials said.

One occupant said residents want the building condemned and displaced residents provided with new apartments.

"I'm a man, but I'm afraid to enter there. I've got a little kid, how can I go in to the house with him?" he told RIA Novosti.

Officials said they would decide who would be resettled after specialists examine the damaged building.

Relatives of those who died will receive about $33,000, officials said. People whose apartments were damaged also will receive about $33,000.

2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserve

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