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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

10 Dead After Collapse of Rostov Apartments

ZERNOGRAD, Southern Russia -- The central section of a four-story apartment house in the Rostov region in southern Russia collapsed over the weekend, killing 10 people including four children, regional Interior Ministry officials said.

Russian news agencies reported that the brick building in Zernograd fell Saturday when its floor supports gave way and that authorities blamed wear-and-tear on the building for the accident.

Several residents said they had heard strange noises over the past few days and thought that they had come from cracks in the building.

"One can say with certainty that it was not a terrorist act," the Interior Ministry's press center said Sunday, Interfax reported.

No explosion was heard and problems with the gas supply also were ruled out, the report said.

In the hours after the collapse, debris from the destroyed section was piled up to the level of the first story, and rescuers struggled through heavy winds to search for victims of the collapse. Twelve apartments in which 44 people lived were ruined, Interfax said.

As the search continued through the night and into Sunday, the bodies of 10 victims were recovered from the rubble.

The dead included two sisters aged 6 and 13 and two other girls, aged 2 and 4.

Officials did not expect the death toll to rise further. Most of the debris was cleared away by Sunday morning.

Six residents suffered injuries and received medical treatment at the central regional hospital.

More than 50 residents of the building in Zernograd, about 1,000 kilometers south of Moscow, were evacuated to temporary housing in a local hotel, Itar-Tass reported.

Officials on the scene in Zernograd, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they had initially suspected Saturday's building collapse was the result of a terrorist attack.

Some 300 people were killed in a series of apartment building explosions in Russia in August and September that Russian authorities blamed on Chechen terrorists.