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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bodies of 54 Vendors Flown Home

MTA police officer talking with two men after they retrieved equipment from the site of the Basmanny market on Sunday.
The bodies of 45 Azeri vendors killed in the roof collapse at the Basmanny food market were flown home on a specially chartered flight to Baku on Sunday, while the bodies of nine Georgians were flown to Tbilisi.

The bodies of six Tajik nationals will be flown to Dushanbe on Monday, and the bodies of three Uzbeks will be sent home by train, Interfax reported, citing diplomats from these countries.

Thursday's collapse at the market in east central Moscow killed at least 66 people, most of whom were traders.

Nineteen injured people remained in Moscow hospitals on Sunday, and three were in serious condition, said Lyubov Zhomova, a spokeswoman for the city government's health department, RIA-Novosti reported.

Moscow's Zamoskvoretsky District Court on Sunday ruled that the market's director, Mark Meshiyev, who was arrested Thursday on charges of causing death by negligence, should stay in custody. Prosecutors argued that he could influence the investigation or hide documents if he was freed.

If convicted, Meshiyev faces up to five years in jail.

In televised comments Sunday, City Prosecutor Anatoly Zuyev accused Meshiyev of allowing unsanctioned changes in the building's use and failing to oversee maintenance.

"The director has flagrantly neglected his professional duty to ensure safety," Zuyev said.

Authorities completed their search of the debris at the market Sunday, while Mayor Yury Luzhkov announced that the city government would pay compensation of 100,000 rubles ($3,500) to families of those who died in the collapse and 50,000 rubles ($1,700) to those hospitalized. The money will be paid only for victims who were registered as Moscow residents, the order said.

Investigators are looking into whether the collapse of the snow-laden roof was caused by poor maintenance or faulty design. The roof's architect, Nodar Kancheli, also designed the roof of the Transvaal water park, which collapsed in February 2005, killing 28 people.

The State Duma on Sunday asked the government to report on what was being done to avert similar collapses.

Victims' relatives and members of the city's Azeri diaspora came to lay flowers at the accident site Sunday, and passersby looked at the pile of concrete rubble and garbage that had been a bustling market four days before. Some older women crossed themselves, while younger onlookers took photographs with their cell phones.

Police officers guarding the site allowed a number of traders inside the fenced perimeter to collect whatever was left of their wares and belongings.

Igor Tabakov / MT

Men looking at floral tributes to the victims laid next to the perimeter fence.

A plump, middle-aged woman wiped away tears as she looked at the wreaths and line of red carnations and roses along the market's fence. "I am from Baku, but I had no any relatives or acquaintances at this market," she said in a trembling voice. "But among the dead there are many of my compatriots, that's why I came here."

Olga Zimina, a local resident and a regular shopper at the market, said she knew many of the vendors by name.

"When I heard an official announcing the names of those who died, I recognized many of them," she said. "After this, I felt so bad I that was in no mood to celebrate Defenders of the Fatherland Day," she said.

One man was telling a small group of onlookers about his luck: Instead of spending Wednesday night at the market, he had opted to stay in a hotel instead, he said.

Some of Kancheli's Projects
Okhotny Ryad shopping center, Manezh Square, Moscow
Christ the Savior Cathedral domes, Moscow
Bolshoi Theater's renovation, Moscow
Gostiny Dvor's Atrium roof, Moscow
Luzhniki Sports Complex roof, Moscow
Dynamo Stadium roof, Moscow
Druzhba hotel, Yalta
Olympic Stadium roof, Berlin
Partisan Stadium, Belgrade
In progress:
City Hall building in the Moskva-City complex, Moscow
Donmegamag Shopping Center, Rostov-on-Don