Dozens of children remain missing feared dead early today after an appalling shopping mall fire in Russia.
The latest death toll from the Kemerovo inferno in Siberia is 56 with 47 injured and many still unaccounted for.
Unconfirmed reports in Kemerovo said at noon local time (6am UK time) that at least 96 bodies have been found in the mall, many of them children.
The children were reportedly burned alive in a furnace of up to 700C.
One 11-year-old-boy, Sergei Moskalenko, is in a coma after jumping from a blazing window – a fall seen on video as he hit an awning – and it was confirmed this morning that his parents died in the fire.
At least 35 people are reported to have died in a blaze (pictured) that broke out at the ‘Winter Cherry’ building in Kemerovo, Siberia on Sunday
One 11-year-old-boy, Sergei Moskalenko (pictured with his family, who died in the blaze), is in a coma after jumping from a blazing window – a fall seen on video as he hit an awning – and it was confirmed this morning that his parents died in the fire
Men were holding a rug to break his fall but he hit an awning over a door as he fell around 40 ft
Sergei’s two grandmothers have contacted the hospital, promising to care for him, say officials. Pictured: The young boy whose family died in the fire
Unconfirmed reports in Kemerovo said at noon local time (6am UK time) that at least 96 bodies have been found in the mall, many of them children. Pictured: fire crews desperately battling the blaze
Missing feared dead: Maria Moroz, 13 (right) and Viktoria Pochankina, 12 (left) were in the shopping centre when the fire started on Sunday
Another young girl feared dead in the blaze is pictured, as rescuers comb the scorched shopping centre she disappeared in for remains
Vilena Chernikova, 11 (left), and Diana Nizovskaya, also 11 (right), are both missing after the devastating fire in Siberia
One security guard said lighted candles were on a table in the play area for a celebration moments before the fire started. Pictured: The play area deemed likely to have been the source of the fire
Family pictures show his mother Olesya, 30, father Evgeny, 35, sister Ksenia, four (left with Sergey), who are missing and presumed dead in the inferno. Right: Sergey
Men were holding a rug to break his fall but he hit an awning over a door as he fell around 40 ft.
Despite his crash, he is expected to survive.
Family pictures show his mother Olesya, 30, father Evgeny, 35, sister Ksenia, four, who are missing and presumed dead in the inferno.
Sergei’s two grandmothers have contacted the hospital, promising to care for him, say officials.
Pictures emerged of the missing children with little hope that any will be found alive in the carnage of the shopping centre as firefighters struggled to reach the worst-hit areas.
A video showed the panic at the start of the tragedy with parents screaming for their children and others shouting ‘fire, fire’.
Another highlighted fire doors locked and people unable to escape.
The fire was still burning this morning – and the structure in danger of collapse – preventing rescuers and firefighters reaching a badly hit cinema where many children had been watching a film.
One girl, Maria Moroz, 13, messaged from the cinema: ‘We are on fire….’
A relative replied then she said: ‘Looks like this is farewell from me.’
She is feared dead.
Owner of the shopping mall Nadezhda Suddenok was detained for questioning. Pictured: Sergei, who jumped from a window to survive the blaze, and his father Evgeny, who died
Veronika Trusova, eight (left), and Vasilisa Trusova, five (right), are both missing after the catastrophic blaze
Veronika Ponushkova, 11 (pictured), is missing after the horrendous inferno in Siberia claimed dozens of lives
Five-year-old Viktoria Arkhipenko (pictured) is among the children missing after the shocking fire in Russia
One woman, Ekaterina, said: ‘I was with my husband on the third floor in a furniture shop. Suddenly the ceiling began to crack, first in one place, then everywhere. Pictured: Egor Kovalevsky, nine, who is missing after the fire
Left: Stanislav Arkhipenko, 28 and his daughter Viktoria, five, who are both missing. Vadim Chmykhalov, ten (right), is also missing
Among the missing are eight girls from one class in Treschevsky village – all 11 or 12 years old – named as: Viktoria Pochankina, Veronika Ponushkova, Elena Chernikova, Tatiana Kurchevskaya, Sergey Maneshkin, Viktoria Zipunova, Anastasia Smirnova, Diana Nizovskaya.
In a heartrending final phone call Viktoria ‘Vika’ Pochankina told her aunt: ‘Everything is burning. The doors are blocked. I can’t go out, I can’t breath.’
Her aunt Evgenia said: ‘I told her: ‘Vika, take off your clothes, cover your nose’.
She told me: ‘Auntie, tell all my family I love them. Tell mum that I loved her…’
The call then ended.
Evgenia added: ‘The school vacations have just begun and almost all their class was there – about 10 people. Two or three parents and a teacher.
‘The teacher left the kids in the cinema and went with parents in the shopping mall. So all the adults survived…’
The body of a Kemerovo high school teacher, Tatiana Darsalia, was the first to be identified.
Staff may have locked cinema doors before the horrifying inferno spread
There was alarming evidence today that staff often locked cinema doors to stop gatecrashers getting inside.
Reports also say fire doors in the complex were locked.
The mall – a converted Soviet-era confectionary factory – was described as a ‘labyrinth’ with few windows, one main staircase, one lift shaft and one escalator.
Local MP for Kemerovo Anton Gorelkin said there were no fire alarms.
Fire doors were locked and extinguishing systems did not work.
‘This is horrendous,’ said the MP from pro-Vladimir Putin party United Russia.
The mall – a converted Soviet-era confectionary factory – was described as a ‘labyrinth’ with few windows, one main staircase, one lift shaft and one escalator
A key beneficiary of the shopping mall in Kemerovo – capital of Russia’s main coal mining region – was named as emigre billionaire. Denis Shtengelov, the owner of KDV Group, who now resides in Australia. Pictured: The fire raging
‘I find it very hard to find words to speak about children who were burned alive.
‘Dozens of lives are lost, and very likely there will be more bodies found.’
He warned: ‘It is incredibly important to openly speak about what happened, and why.
‘People who are guilty in this must be punished.
‘I believe that people whose pockets were filling with millions from this shopping mall knew that one day these money will smell of blood.
‘Whatever was the reason, children’s play, or arson, or – this wasn’t something that caused deaths. ‘It was complete, total absence of working fire alarm and fire extinguishing.
‘Locked fire exits which turned the shopping mall into a trap.
‘Children that died next to fire exits.
‘They knew where to run, they were going in the right direction, but doors were locked.’
A key beneficiary of the shopping mall in Kemerovo – capital of Russia’s main coal mining region – was named as emigre billionaire
Denis Shtengelov, the owner of KDV Group, who now resides in Australia.
She had brought her class to the shopping mall
Owner of the shopping mall Nadezhda Suddenok was detained for questioning.
The official in charge of fire safety and a senior manager were also held.
Local governor Aman Tuleev said he had lost an 11-year-old relative in the fire.
‘I feel it very close, because my very close relative died there, a girl,’ he said.
A mother, Yulia, was in the play area of the Winter Cherry mall with her three children and her own mother.
She said: ‘The fire began on the 4th level, bouncy castles caught fire. It all was happening right in front of my eyes, I was sitting at the sofa opposite the play zone.
‘The fire was grew within seconds, smoke covered all around. It was a miracle that we survived.
‘I ran to look for my children, when I gathered all of them, everything was in smoke. I lost a sight of my mother… Luckily, I met her downstairs’.
Igor, a boy, said: ‘I was watching a movie with my seven-year-old sister. Suddenly the door opened and a woman shouted – fire!
Left: Dmitry Galanin and his son Mikhail, ten, are both missing after the fire. Right: Egor Kovalevsky, nine, and his sister Svetlana, five, who are also missing
The body of a Kemerovo high school teacher, Tatiana Darsalia (pictured), was the first to be identified
The flames burned for five hours (left) as people ushered their children away from the fire (right)
People queue this morning so they can donate blood to those hurt in the disastrous fire in Siberia
Left: Yana Alimova, 42 and her daughter Ruslana, five, who are both missing after the fire. RIght: Viktoria Arkhipenko, five, who is also missing
Candles and flowers have been laid near the site of the disastrous blaze in Kemerovo in Siberia
Left: Elizaveta Sypko, 12, who is missing after the deadly blaze. Right: Liza Ushakova, 12, who is also unaccounted for
‘Clouds of smoke appeared in a second, I grabbed my sister and we ran downstairs. The crowd was terrible there, I could see nothing.
‘It took us five minutes to run out. My hands are still trembling, what if that woman did not come in and shout…?’
One woman, Ekaterina, said: ‘I was with my husband on the third floor in a furniture shop. Suddenly the ceiling began to crack, first in one place, then everywhere.
‘We thought it would collapse on our heads in some seconds. Everyone rushed out including shop assistants, up to 50 people got in one lift.
‘People were jumping on each other on the escalator. Men were running ahead of women… and on the ground floor all were just standing and watching our rush, nobody was in a hurry.
‘Many people got outside without coats, many were from fitness centre and spa, in flip flops and covered in towels… Some people looted TV sets.’
One secunity guard said lighted candles were on a table in the play area for a celebration moments before the fire started.
Another said: ‘People were panicking. The elevators were working.
‘Fire alarm did not work at all. There was no water, no fire alarm.
Fifteen fire teams, including 60 firemen, were at the scene of the accident, where some 1,500 square metres of the mall was ablaze
‘They came to test it not long ago, I remember. And I know that lifts should have been blocked, but they were working, so it was a total failure.
‘All were shouting and running. I went to rescue the children. I was just grabbing them and taking [them] out. I don’t know how many, ten, 15, I was just running here and there while it was possible to breath.’
Russian emergencies minister Vladimir Puchkov said: ‘Firefighters and rescuers are risking their lives and health working inside the facility due to its unstable structure and heavy smoke contamination.
‘There is no access to a number of areas due to extremely high temperatures.’
His deputy, Vladlen Aksyonov, said: ‘The floor decks are giving in and there is a threat of them collapsing.’
Local MP for Kemerovo Anton Gorelkin said there were no fire alarms. Pictured: Vilena Chernikova, 11, who is missing after the blaze
The fire is believed to have started in a foam-filled play area inside the building which ‘went up like gunpowder’ before igniting a number of bouncy castles.
The carnage is one of the greatest tragedies in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union 27 years ago.
Initial reports suggested it was caused by arson, claiming a child had a cigarette lighter inside a foam pit.
‘The fire started from the trampoline room’ – a children’s zone in the complex,’ said deputy governor Vladimir Chernov.
‘The preliminary theory is that one of the children had a cigarette lighter.
‘The fire started right in the foamed trampoline pool, which flared up like gunpowder.’
Earlier reports from officials had failed to make clear the scale of the tragedy.
The fire will come as a severe blow to Vladimir Putin exactly one week after his landslide election victory.
He is currently facing a mounting diplomatic crisis over the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury as western countries fall into line behind Britain.
Mr Putin has ordered his emergencies minister Vladimir Puchkov to fly to Kemerovo to take charge of the disaster.
Firefighters early on Monday, local time, could still not reach the fourth floor of the gutted mall because temperatures were ‘too high’.
Putin sent his ‘heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the victims and wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured’.
Left: Sergey Maneshkin, 11, who is also missing after the blaze. Right: Sergey Chernikov, 30, who is missing together with daughter Vilena, 11
Veronika Ponushkova, 11, has not been heard from since the fire. Witnesses say there was no fire alarm in the centre that caught light
Videos show a jumper smashing into an awning over a door on the way down as onlookers screamed. The person is believed to have died from the fall
Veronika Ponushkova and Viktoria Pochankina, 11, are missing after the fire, which is feared to have killed up to 100 people
The shopping complex is also home to a zoo, where all 200 of the animals are expected to have died.
Among them are rabbits, foxes, deer, wild pigs, goats, ferrets, meerkats, squirrels, hamsters and tortoises from a zoo inside the complex.
Director of the mall’s pet zoo, Evgeny Videman, said he expected all his 200 animals had died.
‘I think they were suffocated and died because I was the last to leave. There were no people left in the zoo.
‘There was a strong smoke on the third floor, people were panicking on the side stairs.
‘I just closed the doors. It was physically impossible to get the animals out. I am a vet and I guess that the animals are already choked with smoke.’
Pictured: Diana Nizovskya, 11, one of the children missing after the blaze
The Russian Investigative Committee, which probes serious crime, confirmed yesterday: ‘Four children corpses have been found in a children’s area during the rescue operations.’
Earlier reports said children died from ‘gas poisoning’ in the mall.
Witnesses say there was no fire alarm in the centre.
Eyewitness Alexander Dorogov said: ‘Two floors went up in smoke in five minutes. The children’s play area in the centre was engulfed in smoke in two minutes.
‘The smoke was so thick that you couldn’t see a stretched out hand. When firefighters came, two people had already jumped out of windows.
‘We found some carpet to hold out and catch one of them.’
In addition to concerns over gas poisoning, there were fears the burned shopping centre could collapse.
Fifteen fire teams, including 60 firemen were scrambled to the scene, where some 1,500 square metres of the mall was ablaze.
Videos show a jumper smashing into an awning over a door on the way down as onlookers screamed. The person is believed to have died from the fall.
Another shopper also jumped and was reported by witnesses to have survived when they were caught by people below.
Around 100 people were evacuated and 20 were rescued from the flames.
Parents were seen on videos ushering their children away from the scene.