One entrance of a nine-story building on Soviet Cosmonaut Street here was destroyed in an early-morning explosion yesterday at around 3:20 A.M. local time, as a result of which local authorities have launched a criminal investigation in accordance with Articles 109 and 168 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (manslaughter as the result of carelessness and destruction of property as the result of carelessness). As reported by a Rosbalt correspondent, by 8:00 A.M. local time, four bodies had been recovered, along with 17 wounded. According to the city's passport service, a total of 76 people lived in that section of the building. Residents were evacuated to a nearby kindergarten.
The mayor of Arhangelsk, Oleg Nilov, was on the scene soon after, and investigators are considering two possible causes for the explosion - either a gas leak or a terrorist act. A special flight has been sent to Arhangelsk from Moscow with 56 professional rescuers, dogs and equipment. By the latest count, 12 people have been hospitalized with varying injuries, while 50 more people may still be trapped beneath the debris. A rescue flight has also been sent from St. Petersburg.