A tragic fire has recently made dozens of victims, including a lot of children. It all happened in a very crowded shopping mall in Kemerovo, Russia. The unfortunate event made 64 victims, out of which at least 41 were children.
Many of the bodies will need genetic testing to identify them, said officials. For now, the final death toll has stopped at 64, but dozens of other people have been reported missing, so with every hour passing, it could get worse.
There have been almost 44 people treated outside the shopping center, with 12 others being hospitalized.
An Ongoing Criminal Investigation
After a few hours, the authorities began a criminal investigation to find out the cause of the fire. According to the Investigative Committee spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko, the shopping center had some “serious violations” of fire safety codes. Petrenko mentioned a couple of the violations: fire exits were blocked and when the fire alarm started, a private security guard turned off the alarm.
The terrible event took place on the first day of a week holiday at schools in Russia. Friends and family of the children that are still missing have started posting photographs of the children. A video from inside the mall shows men trying to escape the flames, struggling to break a locked door to get to a stairwell.
Among the victims was an 11-year-old boy who escaped the fire by jumping out of a fourth-floor window. His condition is very serious and he’s deeply traumatized. The Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova said that not only he has several broken bones and is on a respirator, but he has also “lost his parents and younger sister in this tragedy”.
It took 62 firetrucks and 288 firefighters to extinguish the fire after 19 hours. The area was of 1,500 square meters – 16,000 square feet.
The fire was believed to have started at the children’s play area, near the cinema. There have been some theories that support the cause of the fire: either a child lit a foam ball with a cigarette lighter, or there was an electrical wiring issue. With no fire alarms sounds, people didn’t notice it until it was too late. Those 12 missing children could have been in the cinema, but the high temperature and instability of the building have made access impossible so far.
Four people have been detained: among them is a tenant from the area where the fire might have started and the head of the Winter Cherry Mall’s management company.
Among other victims, all the animals kept at the large petting zoo inside the shopping center have been reported dead.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.