Sun, Feb 26, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Moscow market director charged over roof's collapse

AP , MOSCOW

The director of a Moscow market where the snow-laden roof collapsed, fatally crushing workers, has been detained, the chief city prosecutor said on Friday. Meanwhile, Moscow's mayor said the death toll had reached 61.

The prosecutor, Anatoly Zuyev said the suspect, Mark Mishiyev, had been charged with negligence leading to deaths. He also said prosecutors had ordered an analysis by explosives experts, and that a comprehensive construction analysis would follow.

Luzhkov was quoted by the ITAR-Tass news agency as saying more bodies may yet be found under the massive debris of the Basmanny market in east-central Moscow. There were sharply contrasting reports on how many people were injured in the collapse and how many of the injured were in life-threatening condition.

Luzhkov said 60 victims remained in hospitals, three of them in severe condition, according to ITAR-Tass. Yevgeny Yevdokin, the city's chief anesthesiologist, said earlier in the day that 21 people were hospitalized all of them in intensive care. A duty officer at the Emergency Situations Ministry said late on Friday that 24 victims were in hospital.

Hundreds of workers were laboring around the clock to clear the enormous mound of concrete and steel at the market, using power shovels and other heavy equipment in an indication that they held essentially no hope of anyone being alive underneath.

Earlier on Friday, Luzhkov said "Maybe there is some kind of zone where there may be people, but the probability of this is very small."

Virtually all the victims were workers from the former Soviet republics, among the thousands who have poured into the Russian capital to fill low-paying jobs such as those at the city's produce and housewares markets.

At least 22 of the victims were from Azerbaijan, said Shamil Kasayev, an Azerbaijani Embassy official at the morgue near the market. ITAR-Tass quoted an unnamed leader of the Azerbaijani Diaspora in Moscow as saying that the number was closer to 40.

Kasayev said the government would cover all the costs of transporting the bodies.

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