At least four dead as high rise building collapses in Russia

At least four dead as high rise building collapses in Russia

Hundreds of others are now without a home in freezing temperatures on New Year's Eve.

Rescue services in the Russian city of Magnitogorsk scrambled to find survivors after a suspected gas blast in the early hours of today caused the partial collapse of a high rise apartment building, killing at least two people, news agencies reported.

RIA said it ripped through the building about 6am (local time) when many residents were asleep.

The Emergency Situations Ministry said on its website that in all, 48 apartments from the third to the 10th floor in the building's central part were damaged by the explosion.

Almost 1,400 rescuers were searching for those who could have been buried under debris in temperatures of -17 degrees Celsius, which are forecast to plunge to -24 degrees Celsius overnight.

Emergency officials said they were racing against time since the frigid weather reduced the chances of finding anyone alive.

The collapsed building
'Dozens missing' after fatal blast at apartment block

Senior officials, including the emergencies and health ministers, flew to Magnitogorsk to oversee the rescue operation.

Emergency workers have evacuated residents of nearby sections of the building, fearing they could also tumble down.

An entrance hall in the apartment building collapsed.

The Kremlin said that President Vladimir Putin has been briefed on the situation.

Gas explosions in Russian homes are fairly common, most of which are blamed on neglect of safety rules or poor maintenance.

Regional governor Boris Dubrovsky said authorities planned to buy apartments for people who had lost their homes.

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