Emergencies Ministry reports on death of 64 in Kemerovo fire

Russia: 5 killed in fire at shopping centre in Siberian city of Kemerovo

Blocked fire exits, a shut-down alarm system, and "glaring violations" of safety rules exacerbated the human toll of a fire that swept though a busy Siberian shopping mall, killing 64 people as panicked visitors jumped from windows and banged on doors in an attempt to escape, Russian investigators say.

Citing local authorities, the Russian news agency Tass said 40 of those either dead or missing were children.

The fire at the Winter Cherry mall in Kemerovo, a city about 3,000 kilometers (1,900 miles) east of Moscow, was extinguished by Monday morning after burning through the night.

As well as those killed, 11 injured victims are being treated in hospital, suffering from smoke inhalation.

Around ten people are still missing after the blaze broke out on Sunday afternoon, when the mall was packed with shoppers and cinemagoers.

Eight children, mostly aged between 11 and 12, from the same school in the local village of Treschevsky perished in the blaze while on a trip marking the end of the school term. Among those detained include "the tenant of the premises where the epicenter of the fire allegedly was", Petrenko said.

Some 200 animals are also believed to have died in the mall's petting zoo. The blaze was supposed to have broken out on the shopping mall's fourth floor, where a cinema and children's play area are located.

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However, Rossiya 24 TV, a national broadcaster, said an electrical fault was the most likely cause - as in most previous deadly fires in Russian Federation.

Witness testimony indicated that the fire alarm did not go off and that staff did not arrange for the evacuation at the shopping mall, which was was converted from a former confectionery factory in 2013. A criminal investigation is under way.

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. "There were a lot of children, children without parents", said witness Klepova.

"My daughter kept calling me". Vika told Yevgenia over the phone that she couldn't breathe.

The fire at the four-story Winter Cherry mall in Kemerovo was still raging early Monday.

The Kremlin issued a statement saying Mr Putin "expressed his deep condolences to the relatives and loved ones of those who died".

The tragedy has already launched a series of checks into compliance with fire safety regulations across the country.

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