The concave, snow-covered roof of a three-decade-old Moscow market collapsed early yesterday, killing at least 49 people and trapping about 10, officials said.
Rescue workers used metal cutters and hydraulic lifters to clear the ruins of steel and concrete pieces. Workers used pickaxes to cut holes in the wreckage and knelt to call into the holes in search of survivors.
The victims were municipal and market workers. Channel One said they had spent the night in the market, which was not open for retail business. Ekho Moskvy radio reported that there could also have been wholesale buyers in the building.
Some of those under the rubble were alive, Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu told reporters at the scene.
"They're knocking and crying out," he said.
At least 29 people were injured.
Trapped survivors were using mobile phones to call their relatives, helping rescuers zero in on their location, said Yuri Akimov, deputy head of the Moscow department of the Emergency Situations Ministry.
Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who went to the site to oversee rescue efforts, absolutely ruled out terrorism as a possible cause, the RIA-Novosti news agency reported.
Investigators were looking at three possible causes of the collapse: improper maintenance of the building, a buildup of snow and errors in the building's design, Moscow prosecutor Anatoly Zuyev said. A wet snow had fallen for much of the day on Wednesday and overnight.
Ekho Moskvy radio said the entire roof, covering an area of about 2,000m2, had fallen onto the market stalls.
"The main task now is not to let the building collapse further," Akimov said.
Prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation on charges of negligence leading to the deaths of two or more people, RIA-Novosti said.
Ukhtai Salmanov, a 52-year-old herb-seller from Azerbaijan, said he had been heading out of the market at about 4:50am. Near one of the exits, "I heard a loud noise and I fell to the ground and lost consciousness. When I came to, I was lying by the entrance."
"There was smoke and people were screaming," Ukhtai said, his clothes covered in dust.
Fighting back tears, he said his three sisters, who also worked in the market, were killed. There was no way he could have saved anyone, he said, because a mound of rubble blocked him from reaching them.
Electric generators hummed, and every few minutes the more than 150 rescuers turned off all the equipment and stood silently to listen for signs of life.
About five hours after the collapse, rescuers found a survivor and were trying to pull the person out. A second survivor was found about an hour later.
"We are working at full strength all over the territory of the market," Akimov said.
"Rescue workers are working underneath the building to save those still alive, and we are hoping to save the majority of them," he said.
Utility workers dismantled trolley bus lines running close to the market to allow heavy equipment to maneuver through the narrow streets of the old neighborhood.
The Interfax news agency said emergency officials had sent about 50 ambulances to the site of the collapse at the Bauman market in eastern Moscow, which occurred on Defenders of the Fatherland Day, a state holiday honoring the armed forces. Rescuers used sniffer dogs to locate survivors.
Interfax said that the market had been designed in the 1970s by Nodar Kancheli, the same architect who drafted the plans for Moscow's Transvaal water park, where the roof collapsed in February 2004, killing 28 people. Prosecutors have blamed that collapse on design flaws.
Kancheli visited the market early yesterday.
"I think one possibility is a big buildup of snow," Kancheli told Ekho Moskvy radio. "And they set up kiosks on the mezzanine, which was not originally planned."
He said that corrosion also could have played a role.
CLOSELY TRACKED: A US officer said that the warplanes were watched as they flew from Russia by way of Iran and Syria to Libya and were photographed multiple times The US Africa Command flatly rejected Russian claims that Moscow did not deploy fighter jets to Libya, saying on Friday that the 14 aircraft flown in reflect Russia’s long-term goal to establish a foothold in the region that could threaten NATO allies. US Brigadier General Gregory Hadfield, deputy director of intelligence, said that the US tracked the MiG-29s and Su-24 fighter bombers flown in by Russian military, passing through Iran and Syria before landing at Libya’s al-Jufra air base. The base is the main forward airfield for Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army, which has been waging an
‘SACRIFICED’: Hu Weifeng became the sixth doctor to die from COVID-19 at Wuhan Central Hospital, where calls to raise the alarm over the virus were suppressed The death of a Chinese doctor at Wuhan’s “whistle-blower hospital” has prompted a wave of anger at hospital authorities for not protecting front-line health workers in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. Hu Weifeng (胡衛鋒), 42, a urologist at Wuhan Central Hospital where the whistle-blower ophthalmologist Li Wenliang (李文亮) worked, died of the virus on Tuesday after a four-month battle. Hu is the sixth doctor from his hospital killed by the virus. Another doctor who spoke out, Ai Fen (艾芬), said that authorities told hospital staff not to wear protective gear so as not to cause panic and reprimanded her for “harming
Singapore’s otters, long adored by the city-state’s nature lovers, are popping up in unexpected places during the COVID-19 lockdown, but their antics have angered some and even sparked calls for a cull. With the streets empty, the creatures have been spotted hanging out by a shopping center, scampering through the lobby of a hospital and even feasting on pricey fish stolen from a pond. While many think of tiny Singapore as a densely populated concrete jungle, it is also relatively green for a busy Asian city, and has patches of rainforest, fairly clean waterways and abundant wildlife. There are estimated to be about
Indonesian officials are forcing people who break social distancing rules to recite Koran verses, stay in “haunted” houses and submit to public shaming on social media as the country battles to contain surging novel coronavirus infections. The Southeast Asian archipelago began deploying about 340,000 troops across two dozen cities to oversee enforcement of measures aimed at halting transmission of the disease, such as wearing masks in public. However, provincial leaders are buttressing these efforts with their own zealous campaigns to fight the coronavirus. Police in western Bengkulu Province have assembled a 40-person squad to find lockdown scofflaws and force them to wear