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  Tuesday, January 28, 2020
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The death toll in a shop fire in Ukhta, Komi Republic, has risen to 20, and 10 people were evacuated from the building
The fire fighting operation is progress. The head of the regional department of the Emergencies Ministry, Anatoly Nuikin, said, “The main cause of the death was suffocation: the interior of the shop was decorated with plastic panelling, and the windows were barred.” Eight people have been admitted to the city hospital. Five of them are in the intensive care unit. “Most of them have different burns. Almost all of them are in a state of shock, and it is practically impossible to get any information from them,” a doctor said. One person with minor hand burns declined hospitalisation. Investigators are working at the scene of the incident, and police are trying to identify the victims. According to one witness, the fire started on the ground floor of the shopping centre. Heavy smoke soon filled the building. The blaze blocked the right-hand wing of the centre on the second level. The building is now cordoned off. Fire fighters, ambulances, and police are standing by. Fire flares up now and then in different parts of the building. The Ukhta prosecutor’s office said the fire started after “a man hurled a container with a burning substance on the ground floor, causing a fire.” According to preliminary information, two teenagers are responsible for the incident. Police are trying to identify them. Criminal proceedings have been instituted under Article 105 of the Russian Criminal Code (the killing of two or more people) and Article 167 (premeditated damage to or destruction of property). A special commission has been set up to investigate the incident. It is led by Komi Republic first deputy head Ivan Pozdeyev. He told Itar-Tass that 17 people had died. Pozdeyev said the head of the republic, Vladimir Torlopov, would cut his vacation short and return to work
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