The roof of the Moscow Basmanny market collapsed under the weight of snow and ice, killing at least 33 and injuring dozens. Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov strongly rejected the version of a terrorist act. “The accident has most likely occurred because of the heavy weight of snow and ice on the building. In addition, the market building was rather old – it was built 30 years ago,” Luzhkov said in an interview with NTV network.
Nodar Kancheli, the architect of the building, said that the roof had been designed to carry the load of 140 kilos per one square meter. “We have had very much snow this winter. As a result the load has been increased from 140 to 220 kilos per one square meter of the roof,” the architect said.
Dozens of people have been trapped under the collapsed roof, most of them non-Muscovites. Rescuers try to find the people under the concrete slabs. Every now and then they organize so-called “moments of silence” when all rescuers stop working for a minute trying to catch the sound of those buried under the wreckage. Some of those under the rubble were alive, Emergency Minister Sergei Shoigu said at the scene: "They're knocking and crying out."
A duty officer at the Emergency Situations Ministry said the toll could have been worse had the collapse occurred while the market was open for retail business.
Investigators were looking at three possible causes of the collapse: improper maintenance of the building, a build-up of snow, and errors in the building's design, the Interfax news agency said.
Snow had fallen for much of the day on Wednesday and overnight.