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Russia

Baby pulled out alive from remains of Russian block of flats after gas blast

  • The boy aged 11 months, who survived explosion and sub-zero temperatures for more than a day, was taken to hospital to be checked for fractures
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 January, 2019, 9:14pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 January, 2019, 9:38pm

Russian rescuers on Tuesday pulled a baby boy alive from the ruins of a block of flats that collapsed in a gas explosion more than a day earlier, amid freezing temperatures.

“The rescuers heard crying. The baby was saved by being in a cradle and warmly wrapped up,” Chelyabinsk regional governor Boris Dubrovsky wrote on his Telegram channel.

The baby boy aged 11 months was taken to hospital and is now being checked for fractures, a doctor at the hospital where he is being treated told TASS news agency. Earlier media reports said the child was a girl.

“The little boy is conscious,” they said. “The prognosis is positive.”

Part of the 10-floor block of flats building collapsed following a gas explosion on Monday morning in the industrial city of Magnitogorsk, nearly 1,700km (1,050 miles) east of Moscow in the Ural Mountains.

The baby was found after rescuers were forced to temporarily stop the search for dozens of missing people in the rubble due to fears the rest of the block could come down.

There is a “real threat of part of the building collapsing”, said the head of Russia’s emergencies ministry, Yevgeny Zinichev. “It’s impossible to continue working in such conditions.”

He added that efforts to stabilise the walls could take up to 24 hours, with emergency workers dismantling the building from the outside while hanging from cranes.

The child survived temperatures that fell overnight to around minus 27 degrees Celsius (minus 16 degrees Fahrenheit), TASS reported.

So far the incident has claimed at least seven lives and only six survivors have been found, including a 13-year-old boy.

The Soviet-era block of flats was home to around 1,100 people. The blast completely destroyed 35 flats while 10 more were damaged. Residents left homeless were evacuated to a nearby school.

The regional governor Boris Dubrovsky announced a day of mourning on January 2, with flags lowered and entertainment events cancelled, as the disaster toll set a sombre mood in Russia where New Year’s Eve celebrations are the biggest annual festivities.

President Vladimir Putin on Monday rushed to the scene, where the blast left hundreds of residents homeless in freezing temperatures.

“It is in the character of our people, despite New Year’s festivities, to remember to think of the dead and wounded at this moment,” a grim-looking Putin said.