A fire that engulfed a shopping center complex in the Russian town of Kemerovo has claimed 64 lives, with at least nine children among the dead, according to the latest reports. Several people are still missing, and at least 11 have been hospitalized.
The fire started during a busy Sunday afternoon at the Winter Cherry complex in Siberia, which houses cinemas, shops, bowling alleys, an ice rink and a petting zoo. The roof of the cinemas reportedly collapsed as the fire took hold and swept through the mall’s upper floors.
Firefighters put out the blaze, but it reignited and emergency services struggled to reach the upper parts of the complex because of the collapsed roof, Reuters reported.
Local reports suggest that the center’s fire alarms did not go off as smoke filled parts of the facility. Pictures showed people jumping from the top floor to escape the blaze.
The cause of the fire is not yet known, but early suspicions focused on a possible electrical fault. The manager of the firm that owns the center and three others have been held for questioning, Russian authorities said.
Kemerovo is a coal-mining town 2,200 miles east of Moscow. The Winter Cherry center opened in 2013.