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Amir condoles on Russian blaze – 64 dead

Smoke rises above the multi-story shopping center in the Siberian city of Kemerovo, about 3,000 kms east of Moscow, Russia. (AP)

KUWAIT CITY, March 26, (Agencies): His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah on Monday cabled Russian President Vladimir Putin expressing condolences on demise of people in the fiery fire that gutted a shopping mall in Russia. Their Highnesses the Crown Prince and the Prime Minister, respectively Sheikh Nawaf Al- Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al- Hamad Al-Sabah, addressed cables of identical content to President Putin.

Witnesses say fire alarms were silent and staff was nowhere to be seen when a fire at a shopping mall packed with children and their parents on the first weekend of the school recess killed 64 people in Russia’s Siberia. The fire at the Winter Cherry mall in Kemerovo, a city about 3,000 kms (1,900 miles) east of Moscow, was extinguished by Monday morning after burning through the night. Sixty-four deaths were confirmed after firefighters finished combing through the four floors of the mall, Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov told a televised briefing.

Six of the bodies have not yet been recovered. Some of the dead were found inside a cinema, which one witness said had been locked shut. Investigators said Monday that emergency exits were blocked and a security guard turned off the public announcement system when he received a call about the blaze, but they provided no information why that happened.

On Monday morning, Kemerovo residents were bringing flowers, candles and stuffed animals to a plaza outside the mall, and local hospitals reported an influx of people wanting to donate blood for the victims. Out of 23 victims whose bodies have been identified, eight are children, the emergency officials said.

Thirteen people have been hospitalized. Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova, who visited the Keremovo hospital where the victims were receiving treatment, said on Russian state television that the patient in the gravest condition is an 11-year-old boy who jumped out of a window from the fourth floor. The boy’s parents and younger sister died in the fire, Skvortsova said. Some 200 animals are also believed to have died in the mall’s petting zoo.

The zoo’s manager told the Tass news agency that the animals included rabbits, turtles, pigs, goats and rodents. Russia’s top investigative body said Monday afternoon that they are searching for a security officer who appears to

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