Nineteen dead in Ukrainian apartment blast (Update)

12:54, 25 December 2008
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Two of them “seems to be” children

According to the latest data, nineteen people were killed and up to 15 were still missing after a blast at an apartment block in Ukraine`s Black Sea town of Yevpatoriya.

According to an UNIAN correspondent, spokesman for the regional emergency ministry Eduard Hryvkovskiy said this to journalists Thursday.

According to him, out of the 19 dead, two “seems to be” children. Besides, 21 people had been rescued from the rubble so far.

According to AP, Russian television reported that those trapped under the rubble made calls to relatives on their cellphones pleading for a quick rescue after the blast on Wednesday evening.

"There was a loud bang, and we rushed out and saw half of the building was missing," witness Sergei Yurchenko told Russian state television Channel One. "There were screams, and a child was crying."

President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko were flying to Yevpatoriya, according to their respective Web sites.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev offered to send naval personnel from Russia`s nearby Black Sea fleet, stationed at the Ukrainian port city of Sevastopol, to help in the rescue attempt, a Kremlin spokesman said on customary condition of anonymity.

The explosion hit at around 9.45pm local time, when most of the destroyed section`s 62 registered inhabitants would have been home.

Ukrainian state television pictures showed military rescuers searching for survivors among the mounds of concrete and glass. A middle section of the building was missing, and apartments on either side had their walls torn down and were exposed.

Up to 700 rescuers were at the scene sifting through the rubble. Every hour they fell silent to listen for possible cries for help, he said.

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