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Siberia welcomes in 2019 but celebrations muted after Magnitogorsk gas explosion tragedy

By The Siberian Times reporter
01 January 2019

Putin called on Russians to remember the victims and bereaved in Urals blast on New Year’s Eve in which dozens are feared dead.

Putin urged Russians marking the New Year festivities - the highlight of the annual calendar -  ‘to remember those who died and suffered, in our hearts'

New Year festivities went ahead across Russia but the dawn of 2019 came at a terrible toll with the gas explosion at 6am in a block in the industrial city of Magnitogorsk. 

It appeared early on New Year’s Day that up to 40 bodies buried in the rubble including as many as seven children. 

The upper floors of a section of a ten storey block had collapsed and while some were evacuated, many had no chance of escaping. 

President Vladimir Putin flew to Magnitogorsk and met survivors in hospital as well as regional officials coordinating the search of the stricken apartment block. 

He urged Russians marking the New Year festivities - the highlight of the annual calendar -  ‘to remember those who died and suffered, in our hearts, because this is in the nature of our people’.

Magnitogorsk tragedy

Magnitogorsk New Year's Eve tragedy


The president said: ‘I want to express my words of condolences to the families of those who died in the tragedy, to assure all the victims that we will do everything to help and support them.’

As the New Year rolled across Russia from the Pacific to the Urals and further west, desperate efforts were being made to remove the rubble and reach the bodies of those buried. 

Foreign tourists - from as far afield as Jamaica - reached the world’s coldest village of Oymyakon in Yakutia, where the thermometers nudged minus 50C.

The New Year was ushered in her by the magnificent blue-coated Chyskhaan, also known as the King of the Cold.

Over much of Siberia temperatures were unusually mild.

In largest city Novosibirsk, thousands gathered to watch an impressive firework display in Lenin Square with the thermometer at minus 12C

As one local said: ‘This is our most important night of the year, but it’s hard to celebrate after what happened today in Magnitogorsk.

‘We can’t stop thinking about those poor people.’

Oymyakon


Oymyakon


Oymyakon
Last moments of 2018 and firework celebration of 2019 in Oymyakon, where temperature dropped to minus 48C. Pictures: Nariyana Romanova


Emergencies Minister Yevgeny Zinichev said at a meeting with Putin there were ‘presumably between 36 and 40 people under the rubble’.

After reporting four casualties earlier in the day, Zinichev said that another three bodies had been discovered.

‘We have found another three bodies but we cannot take them out,’ he said.

The structure was too unsafe to try to move them.

‘We are working carefully because there is a risk that the building will collapse.’

Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova told state television that the chances of finding survivors were fading as the day wore on.

Comments (6)

Such sad tragic news for so many families
Patricia Gothard, Laguna Woods CA USA
07/01/2019 10:17
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So happy the baby was found and lives. God Bless these folks who have lost so much in this tragic accident Give them strength and resolve to overcome this catastrophic event.
Ozzie Finley Sr, U.S.A.
02/01/2019 21:26
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On USA news tonight they said a baby was found alive. Oh, joyous event ! I hope he continues to get better.
PSylgar, Hallsville, USA
02/01/2019 11:36
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The article didn't say what caused the explosion. Was it a natural gas leak?
Aarky, Ft Smith, USA
02/01/2019 08:53
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Hope Dies Last.....Russia's resilience is historically famous and stands you in good stead for the future. I hope as well for the location of further survivors. I echo as well Benedikjt's bereavement sentiments to all involved.
Pamela K Tetarenko, United States
01/01/2019 18:00
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my thoughts are with family and friends, and special with the people who are still counted as missing. it is COLD here and buried under tons of rubble, it would be a miracle if one still would be alive. but as we say in Russia here. HOPE DIES LAST.
MORAK Benedikjt, Moscow
01/01/2019 10:18
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