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Putin at blast site amid race to find survivors

Russian President Vladimir Putin has travelled to the site of a gas explosion in a apartment block that killed at least seven people and left dozens feared trapped.

Rescuers faced a race against time to dig survivors out of the rubble of the blast with temperatures set to plunge as low as -24C (-17F).

The explosion caused the partial collapse of a nine-storey building in the southern Russian city of Magnitogorsk, where cries for help could reportedly be heard beneath the ruins.

Cries foe help have reportedly been heard from under the rubble
Image: Cries for help have reportedly been heard from under the rubble

Mr Putin looked on as rescue workers searched the site. He also visited the injured in hospital.

Emergencies minister Yevgeny Zinichev said at a meeting with the Russian president that there were “presumably between 36 and 40 people under the rubble”, news agencies reported.

Some 110 people lived in the building, said the RIA news agency, citing the emergencies ministry.

Vladimir Putin visits the site of a gas explosion in the southern Russian city of Magnitogorsk
Image: Vladimir Putin visits victims of the gas explosion.

Officials said the chances of finding survivors were diminishing as the day wore on.

Deputy emergency minister Pavel Baryshev said: “We must work as quickly as we can as temperatures don’t give us any time to linger.”

The emergencies ministry earlier said that five people were in hospital.

The city is  1,700 km (1,050 miles) east of Moscow
Image: The city is 1,700 km (1,050 miles) east of Moscow

The blast reportedly happened at around 6am local time, when many people were sleeping on what is a Russian public holiday.

Magnitogorsk is a city of about 400,000 just over 1,000 miles from Moscow.

More from Russia

There have been similar incidents in Russia in recent years due to ageing infrastructure and poor safety over gas usage.

In 2015, at least five people were killed when a gas blast damaged an apartment building in the city of Volgograd.

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