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13 Killed in Ukraine Gas Blast

A natural gas explosion ripped through an apartment building in eastern Ukraine on Saturday, killing at least 13 people and damaging other buildings, an emergency official said. 

The blast destroyed much of the 10-story building in the industrial city of Dnipropetrovsk, about 600 kilometers from the capital, Kiev, ripping off parts of the roof and blowing out dozens of windows. 

The Ukrainian Emergency Situations Ministry said earlier that 21 people were hospitalized, six of them children. 

Russian and Ukrainian news reports said the blast was so powerful that its shockwave damaged several other multistory apartment buildings and smaller houses. 

As of Sunday afternoon, emergency services were still looking for about 20 people, a ministry official said. Relatives reported the people as missing and it was unclear whether they were in the apartment block during the explosions. 

Natural gas explosions resulting from leaks in poorly maintained infrastructure or problems with canisters are common in the former Soviet Union, where gas is often used for heating and cooking. 

The local gas company, DnipropetrovskGorGaz, said a sharp increase in gas pressure in the city system might have helped cause the blast, Interfax reported.


(The Moscow Times 15.x.07)

 
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