Explosion That Killed 3 Blamed on Students and a Blow Torch

MTThe view on Sunday of the Moscow apartment building damaged by a blast.
An explosion Friday evening that killed three people in northern Moscow is being blamed on a welding torch used by students to make medieval weaponry.

The blast ripped through several apartments in a 22-story residential building on Ulitsa Akademika Korolyova, near the VDNKh metro station, at about 7 p.m. Friday, causing a fire and leaving a gaping hole in the building.

Three people were killed, three more hospitalized and 45 residents evacuated while authorities repair the damage, Interfax reported.

The fatalities included a pair of students who triggered the blast with a welding torch and a woman in a neighboring apartment, Mayor Yury Luzhkov told reporters Saturday.

"The explosion was the fault of two students who had a hobby of recreating old forms of weaponry, like helmets and chain mail," Luzhkov said in televised comments. "This required the use of a blowtorch with gas."

The mayor dismissed initial theories that the blast was caused by a natural gas explosion or a terrorist attack.

Komsomolskaya Pravda reported Saturday that the blast took place in the apartment of Kirill Shiryayev, 20, a student at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology who appeared to have been killed in the explosion, although authorities had not yet been able to identify his burned body.

Shiryayev was a member of the nationalist Movement Against Illegal Immigration, also known by its Russian initials, DPNI, who kept a LiveJournal blog under the username barkoff_k, the newspaper reported.

The blog, which was still online Sunday, featured photos of people wearing medieval armor, as well as racist remarks about people from the Caucasus.

On Sunday, the DPNI posted a brief obituary of Shiryayev on its web site, saying he was a "true patriot" who had joined the movement in 2006. It said Shiryayev had died in a tragic incident but did not give further details.