At least four persons were confirmed dead with several others injured after a gas explosion tore through a high-rise residential building in central Russia.
According to reports, the large section of the building collapsed after the explosion around 6:00 am local time (1100 GMT) at the high-rise in the industrial city of Magnitogorsk, nearly 1,700 kilometres (1,050 miles) east of Moscow in the Ural mountains.
President Vladimir Putin rushed to the city, where the blast left hundreds of residents homeless in freezing temperatures on New Year’s Eve — the biggest holiday of the year in Russia.
Officials said four people were confirmed dead and five others, including two children, had been taken to hospital. But officials added that up to 40 people could still be trapped under the rubble.
Rescue workers combing through mangled heaps of concrete and metal in temperatures of minus 18 Celsius (minus 0.4 Fahrenheit).
“I went out to have a cigarette at quarter-to-six,” a local man told Russian television. “There was a blast and a wave of fire… then people started running out.”