Apocalypse in St Petersburg

Forty-three-year-old Irina Gruzdeva came from the city of Rybinsk to visit her daughter who was studying in St Petersburg and living in astudent hostel with her one-month-old son. The grandmother was looking after her grandson in the hostel when she heard a crash, then an explosion, and, afterwards, the room folded like a house of cards. Irina tried to rescue her grandson. . The evacuation lasted for one hour. According to official information, 423 people lived in the hostel, while, in the ruined building, 100 people lived. Fifty-five people were evacuated.

A secion of the building crashed. The people who managed to leave the house could not look back. The rescued people stated that they heard cries from the pile of rubble.

“Usually, nobody survives such collapses. This is a brick building,” – Doctor Vadim Filimonov said.

The reason for the tragedy is still unclear. A terrorist act seems to be the most impossible version. The building from the 1950s has most likely not been remodelled. According to one version, the reason was that gas-cylinders remaining in the house after the May remodelling blew up. One more possible reason is the St Petersburg water channel. On the day of the tragedy, a pipeline was changed, and, at that very moment, the foundation sank and the house split.

“I wanted to know what they were digging and why. However, I had no time. At that moment everything started to collapse,” – resident Igor Nedodaev stated. Proceedings were instituted because of the explosion; however, St Petersburg public prosecutor Ivan Sydoruk cannot say who is guilty of the tragedy. The names of the people who remained in the heaps are known, RIA ‘Novosti’ reports. Among them, there is also a worker of the bank that was situated on the first floor of the building, who asked for help via her mobile telephone.

Yesterday, at 7:00 p.m. (local time), the shovelling of the heaps started. Currently, it is known that four people died: all of them are residents of neighbouring building that did not collapsed. They received fatal burns. Nobody has been recovered from the heaps. Three people are in the hospital; among them there is a child, 10-month-old Daniel with gas poisoning and concussion of the brain. The rescue effort has lasted the entire night. According to ITAR-TASS, by the morning, the list of missing people was reduced. In particular, it turned out that one citizen searched for by the rescuers was at work at the moment of the tragedy. The rescue effort is being personally led by the head of the Emergency Ministry, Sergei Shoigu, who has arrived in St Petersburg and brought elite rescue units with specially trained dogs.

The situation changes every 15 minutes. The rescuers take a pause every 3 hours. When the equipment stops working, dogs are used to search for possible survivers.

In the meantime, the Sergei Shoigu headquarters decided to organize a special area for examining all the fragments of the building. According to information agencies, a similar case took place in the St Petersburg Nevsky district on May 22. At that time, there were no victims, though 48 families were left without apartments.

Anna Radygina PRAVDA.Ru St Petersburg

Translated by Vera Solovieva

Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/06/04/42177.html

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