At Least 6 Dead in 2 Gas Explosions

ReutersRescuers working at an apartment block in Zheleznovodsk, where a gas explosion early Monday killed at least six.
Two gas explosions killed at least six people, including two children, in two regions Monday, emergency officials said.

All six were killed in a blast that occurred at 2:18 a.m. in an apartment on the top floor of a five-story apartment building in Zheleznovodsk, a spa resort at the foot of the Caucasus Mountains in the Stavropol region.

Prosecutors are pursuing several leads, but the main one is that a gas oven was used to heat the apartment in violation of safety rules, Interfax reported.

The owner of the apartment could not be found among the dead or the injured, a Stavropol regional prosecutor told Interfax.

The identity of the apartment owner was not released Monday, but General Igor Oder, head of the Emergency Situations Ministry's branch in the Stavropol region, described the owner as an elderly man.

"It was cold, and it appears an elderly, 70-year-old man was using natural gas from his stove burners to warm the apartment. Then there was an explosion," Oder said on state television.

The blast also destroyed four apartments in the building in Zheleznovodsk, Itar-Tass reported.

Television pictures showed one section of the top floor of a concrete apartment building blown out.

Among the bodies recovered from the building were a 7-year-old girl and a 4-month-old girl, Gazeta.ru reported.

Five people were hospitalized, four in critical condition.

Eight people were rescued from under the debris, and nearly 60 people had to be evacuated from their homes.

Also Monday, a gas explosion injured seven people in a five-story apartment in the town of Novokuibyshevsk in the Samara region.

The blast occurred at 2:25 p.m., causing the ceiling to collapse on the fourth and fifth floors, Interfax said.

Last week eight people were killed in a suspected gas explosion in an apartment building in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan

Gas explosions have become commonplace in Russia's Soviet-era apartment buildings.

MT, Reuters