DATE : 18-09-03 21:56
Fatal fires and incidents at Russian shopping malls raise questions over safety standards
 WRITER : admin

At least eight children were injured on June 1 after gas used in a science demonstration at a mall in Siberia ignited an explosion. The accident occurred at the KomsoMALL shopping centre in the city of Irkutsk during a Children’s Day show in a play area on the third floor of the mall, Komsomolskaya Pravda reported.

KomsoMALL Irkutsk - Shutterstock
KomsoMALL Irkutsk - Shutterstock

Educators were showing children between the ages of five and 13 how fireworks function as part of the mall’s Children’s Day events. Security cameras inside the closed room where the demonstration was held captured a massive fireball eruption, sending spectators running for the exits.

Investigators confirmed several children were transported to hospital, including a 10-year-old boy who was placed in intensive care with second-degree burns. Police have arrested the technical director of the company that produced the science show pending an investigation into violations of safety standards.

The incident comes after 64 people, most of them children, were killed in another mall fire on 25 March 2018, in the Winter Cherry shopping centre in the Siberian city of Kemerovo.

Investigators found the fire, one of the deadliest in Russia since the break-up of the Soviet Union, swept through the upper floors after a security guard had turned off the public address system and exits had been illegally blocked.

Investigative Committee head Aleksander Bastrykin said the fire alarm at the complex had been down since 19 March, and nobody had tried to fix it.

Many of the victims were in the mall's three cinemas, where two roofs collapsed. Kemerovo Oblast deputy governor Vladimir Chernov said that the preliminary suspicion was that a child had a cigarette lighter which ignited foam rubber in a children's trampoline room.

The calamitous way the emergency was handled stirred public anger in Kemerovo and focused attention on corruption and lax fire safety standards. 

Kemerovo residents held several large demonstrations after the disaster blaming officials and politicians for the disaster. Some called for President Putin to resign. Many demonstrators said they did not trust the authorities and did not believe the announced death toll was accurate.

President Putin accepted Kemerovo Oblast governor Aman Tuleyev's resignation after the incident. Four people, including the mall manager, were charged with criminal negligence.

Rallies commemorating the victims were also held across the country, including in Moscow and St Petersburg.

Another mall fire occurred on 11 March 2015, when a blaze caused the partial collapse of the Admiral shopping complex in the Russian city of Kazan. This killed at least 17 people, with 55 more injured.


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