Search for survivors of Russian flats explosion

Rescuers pull a 10-month-old baby boy from a collapsed section of an apartment building in Magnitigorsk a city of 400,000 about 1400 kilometres southeast of Moscow Russia

The regional governor Boris Dubrovsky announced a day of mourning on January 2, with flags lowered and entertainment events cancelled, as the disaster toll set a sombre mood in Russian Federation, where New Year's Eve celebrations are the biggest annual festivities. Officials say five injured people, including two children, were taken to hospital.

Battling freezing temperatures, rescuers had worked through the night combing through debris and trying to stabilise the remaining walls.

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

Officials said they had all the necessary equipment for a thorough search, but the work was proceeding slowly due to fear other sections of the 10-story building might collapse. Residents left homeless were evacuated to a nearby school. One that was left hanging in the collapsed section of the building came crashing down as television stations aired live broadcasts from the scene.

President Vladimir Putin ordered the creation of a government commission to relieve the consequences of a gas explosion in a residential building in Magnitogorsk.

At the hospital, Mr Putin spoke to a 13-year-old boy, who sustained head injuries and frostbite after spending an hour under the rubble before being rescued.

The baby boy survived for 35 hours after the building collapse in freezing temperatures thanks to being in a crib and wrapped up warmly
APThe baby boy survived for 35 hours after the building collapse in freezing temperatures thanks to being in a crib and wrapped up warmly

"I woke up and felt myself falling". "I first thought I was dreaming it".

"It is in the character of our people, despite New Year's festivities, to keep in mind to think of the dead and wounded at this moment", a grim-looking Putin said. "My mother was screaming and my son had been buried", a witness said.

The blast tore through the building at around 6 a.m. (0100 GMT) when many residents were asleep, RIA news agency reported.

President Putin has visited a block of flats where four people died and up to 40 are missing after an explosion.

Gas explosions in Russian homes and businesses are common, and they are usually blamed on neglect of safety rules or poor maintenance.

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