At least three people are dead and 79 missing after an explosion occurred at around 6am when many of the residents were asleep in an apartment building in southern Russia, in Magnitogorsk, an industrial city in Russia's Chelyabinsk region near the border with Kazakhstan.
The building has partially collapsed. A search and rescue effort is underway involving more than 460 emergency workers. Three people have been pulled alive from the rubble.The blast was believed to have been caused by a gas explosion. Russian President Vladimir Putin has directed the emergencies minister to personally fly to Magnitogorsk and lead the rescue efforts. He also urged the minister of healthcare to undertake all the necessary measures to assist the victims.
News agency said 110 people lived in the building and 48 apartments had been damaged. The temperature now in the city is -15C. Search and rescue teams are picking through the rubble of the partially-collapsed nine-storey building amid fears the death toll could grow. The Soviet-era high-rise was built in 1973. There have been several similar incidents in Russia in recent years due to ageing infrastructure and poor safety regulations surrounding gas usage.