Moscow's Ostankino television tower, still under repairs after a heavy fire of two years ago, will now become 40 meters taller, announced Efim Ilyaich, director of the Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Network.
The 540-meter-high tower was the world's tallest free-standing structure when it was built in 1967. Now it will rise another 40 meters up as new, state-of-the-art broadcasting transmitters are mounted atop, Ilyaich said.
Three national television networks that use the tower as a relay station went off the air as the fire broke out on August 27, 2000. It took firefighters nearly two days to extinguish the flames. The operation involved 2,364 personnel, 269 pieces of equipment, and two helicopters. Three people were killed in an elevator that crashed down into the waterlogged basement of the flaming spire.
The tower's electrical equipment was checked up in May 2000, and it was then recommended that 38 safety measures be implemented to prevent possible blaze. Yet, only 16 of them were carried out by August 2000.
On Tuesday, the firemen who had contributed to the fire-fighting operation at Ostankino two years ago staged a rally outside the tower to commemorate the event.
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Eyewitnesses said that explosions could be heard in the centre of Kyiv. Smoke was seen rising above Zhuliany Airport (Kyiv International Airport)