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A funeral ceremony was held in Vladivostok for the nine fire victims on Friday
A funeral ceremony was held in Vladivostok for the nine fire victims on Friday. The victims were women between 20 and 30 years of age, all employees of a Savings Bank office. Aside from the fatalities' colleagues, hundreds of city residents came to pay last respects. Authorities in Russia's Maritime territory announced Friday a day of mourning for the fire victims and canceled all entertainment. Flags are flying at half-mast at the ports, on ships, and at military units and garrisons. The Vladivostok administration promised to provide rehabilitation to all persons hurt in the blaze, reportedly caused by numerous breaches of fire safety rules. It started in a stairwell between the sixth and seventh floors and spread rapidly because of the piles of archival documents kept in the stairwell without authorization. This hampered the evacuation, trapping people inside, while the firemen lost precious minutes in clearing the area of parked cars to put up ladders. Nine people died and another 20 were injured in the incident. Law-enforcement authorities arrested the inspector who had checked the building in July 2004, and exposed a number of irregularities, such as barred windows in stairwells, but failed to control the elimination of these shortcomings. Prosecutors are considering several versions: careless handling of fire, arson and damaged wiring. Authorities launched checks of all Maritime buildings for compliance with fire safety requirements.
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