Of the 64 deaths in the deadly fire incident that engulfed the Winter Cherry mall in Russia, around 40 were reported to be children. The fire broke out on Sunday afternoon, the first day of a week-long school break with dozens of parents and children trapped inside the mall. The doors of one of the shopping centre’s cinemas, where children were watching cartoon films, were locked and people did not hear alarms, witnesses told a Russian television.
Some even tried making futile phone calls to parents or relatives before succumbing to the smoke and flames. One of the hospitalised victims was a 11-year-old boy who jumped out of a fourth-floor window to escape the fire. He was described by authorities Monday as being in serious condition and emotionally traumatized.
Thousands of angry and distraught Russians rallied Tuesday in a Siberian city to demand a full probe into a shopping mall fire. President Vladimir Putin blamed the mall fire in the Siberian city of Kemerovo on “criminal negligence” as he visited the site two days after the tragedy.
A criminal investigation has been opened for possible negligence and violation of fire safety requirements. Four people have been detained for questioning, including the mall’s tenants who are suspected of deactivating the public address system when the fire broke out, said the investigation committee.
The fire at the Winter Cherry mall in Kemerovo, a city about 3,000 kilometers (1,900 miles) east of Moscow, was extinguished Monday morning after burning through the night. Media reports suggested the initial blaze broke out on the fourth floor of the building, possibly at a trampolining centre, and spread rapidly, generating huge clouds of billowing black smoke.
(With inputs with AP)