A terrible tragedy has happened in Russian northern city of Arkhangelsk early Tuesday morning that can only be compared to the collapse of “Transvaal Aqua Park” in Moscow a month ago and the recent blast in Moscow metro.
By today's morning a number of victims has reached 44. Despite the fact that initially the criminal case was filed under “causing death by accident” article, Russian law enforcement still consider the version of a terrorist act. Two suspects have already been arrested.
Assistant public prosecutor Yuri Shperling stated, “We do not exclude a possibility of a terrorist act,” since there were many policemen who used to live in this apartment building, including those who fought in Chechenya. In addition, an all-night repair team had already liquidated a similar gas leak in two apartment buildings in Arkhangelsk. “Izvestia” managed to find an entire family who miraculously survived the collapse. The family lived on the 9th floor of the collapsed part of the building.
One fact is certain: 1kg of natural gas (methane) accumulated between the second and the third floors (which equals to 10kg of trinitrotoluol TNT).
A family of three: a wife, a husband and their 8-year-old son have miraculously survived. The Kurochkin family used to live in apartment 186.
-My first feeling—I am flying… Afterward I realized that I woke up while falling from the 9th floor. Then I heard the explosion and found myself buried in debris. I tried to move, realized that I was alive.
The woman wipes off her tears with her shaky hand.
-Then I heard a man's voice yelling “Anya! Anya!” It was my husband. I yelled back. He said he could not free himself from the wreckage. So I attempted to stand up…I was wearing only my pajamas, but I did not feel cold. I soon found my husband pressed against the back of our bed. …I ran for my mother in law who lived in the same building. Unfortunately, we were too weak to move away the debris. Rescuers did not take long though. They freed my husband. But we have a kid too! So we both started to yell his name…Then I heard Artem, my son, yelling back from the ninth floor. Turned out, his room did not collapse. Can you imagine stepping out of the room and finding emptiness, a mere dark abyss…
What are we going to do now…we don't have any clothes, any money, anywhere to go to? We will unite will other survivals and demand decent housing.
“Rumors about the fact that the building had families of policemen living there and that it had something to do with the explosion seem to be rather shaky,” reported senior advisor of press services of the Department of Internal Affairs Igor Avtushko. “The building had been really built for the Department’s needs. However in mid 90s, it had become private property of city authorities. Since then, only 3 people who live in this building belong to law enforcement; one of them is a veteran…”
“Main version of the collapse remains that of natural gas explosion. At the same time, version of arson is not fully eliminated,” reported press-secretary of the local office of public prosecutor Galina Kostilyeva in her interview with “Izvestia”. “Final versions of this incidents will be announced no sooner than 2-3 days.”
“We do not know what caused the gas leak,” states she. “Three similar gas leaks have been reported that night in the city. Repair teams managed to fix two of them. Special caps from gas valves were missing in all three cases. This makes us suspect that the explosion has been sabotaged.”
Two years ago, unknown individuals have unscrewed gas valves and placed burning candles on several upper floors of a five-story apartment building in the city of Koryajma of Arkhangelsk region. The tragedy had been avoided only thanks to the residents' watchfulness. Similar traces of unscrewed valves have been discovered in other buildings in the region. Unfortunately, evil doers have not been arrested yet.
According to “Izvestiya” it isn't an easy task to unscrew those gas valves. An ordinary hooligan will be incapable to handle this by himself. One has to know certain specifics, that only professionals know. If someone manages to unscrew the cap, gas fills the building within 2 hours.