2018 Kemerovo fire

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2018 Kemerovo fire
Zimnyaya Vishnya complex after fire.png
Winter Cherry complex after fire
Date25 March 2018 (2018-03-25)
VenueWinter Cherry complex
LocationKemerovo, Russia
Coordinates55°20′37″N 86°04′40″E / 55.34361°N 86.07778°E / 55.34361; 86.07778Coordinates: 55°20′37″N 86°04′40″E / 55.34361°N 86.07778°E / 55.34361; 86.07778
TypeFire
Death(s)60[1]
Non-fatal injuries79[2]

On 25 March 2018 at 16:00 local time (9:00 UTC), a fire that engulfed the Winter Cherry shopping mall and entertainment complex in Kemerovo, Russia. It killed at least 60 people (more than half of which children) according to official statements. The blaze started somewhere on the top floor of the four-story complex, and people were seen jumping from windows to escape it. 100 people were evacuated, and another 20 were rescued.[3][4] Others claim the number of people killed in fire is being covered up, and that the real figure runs into the hundreds.[5][6] According to the Russian authorities the source of these rumors was a Ukrainian prankster who called the morgue posing as an emergency services officer.[7]

The Winter Cherry complex[edit]

The Winter Cherry shopping and entertainment complex (Russian: Зимняя вишня, торгово-развлекательный комплекс Zimnyaya vishnya, torgovo-razvlekatel'nyy kompleks) is a mall in Kemerovo, Russia.

The mall, which was converted from a former communist-era confectionery factory,[8] opened in 2013 with 23,000 square meters of space, which included a petting zoo, children’s center and bowling alley.[9] The building was described as a labyrinth with few windows and points of entrance to the upper levels, with one main staircase, one lift shaft and one escalator.[10]

Fire[edit]

Floor plan for the level 4 of Zimnyaya Vishnya shopping and entertainment center with the initial fire

Survivors reported that the fire started on the fourth floor play area, with the heat of the flames rising to 700°C, the heat so high it caused the bouncy castles to burst into flame.[10] Many of the victims were in the mall's three cinemas, where two of the cinema roofs collapsed from the fourth floor into the third.

Several of the victims in the cinemas were children watching Sherlock Gnomes to start off the first day of a week-long school break.[11][12] A survivor from the cinema claimed that those in the cinema heard no alarm, and had to break through one door and jump to safety. Once on the ground, survivors could only see dense black pungent smoke that had filled the children's playground and the other cinema hall.[9] The fire alarm system at Kemerovo shopping mall was switched off by a security guard.[13]

Many children who were trapped in the fire called loved ones and friends to exchange last conversations and information. One deceased child's aunt recounted their conversation during the fire in which the victim stated; "everything burns and the doors are locked in the cinema."[14]

A spokesperson for the Investigative Committee of Russia also stated that the fire exits in the building were blocked during the fire.[15] Tajik shopkeepers saved around 50 people through an alternate exit.[16] Staff and guards of the center were criticized by survivors for not arranging an organized evacuation effort, while some were praised for their efforts.[17]

Victims[edit]

At least 64 people were killed in the fire, 41 of them children.[18][19] Also among the fatalities are some 200 animals from the petting zoo. Thirteen people had been hospitalized after the incident with the Russian Health Minister claiming the most gravely injured was an 11 year old boy who jumped from a fourth floor window.[17]

Due to the fire, identification of most bodies had to have DNA identification used to confirm identifies. As of March 27, 60 individuals were treated in hospitals, of those 15 were hospitalized and 40 received outpatient care, and 25 victims, including 13 children had been identified.[20]

First responders[edit]

Over 600 first responders, spent over 17 hours fighting the flames well into the next day after the fire started.[10] The fire spread to cover more than 1,500 square meters of the 23,000 square meter building, and kept firefighters from entering the building for 12 hours due to the heat and smoke.[14]

A father of three deceased victims was critical of rescuers, claiming he led rescuers up the stairs, but they turned away after being ordered to go elsewhere and refused to give him a respiratory mask citing regulations. In an interview he angrily stated "My daughters were left to burn because of their bloody rules."[21]

The shopping mall in 2012.

Investigation[edit]

The Investigative Committee of Russia (IVR), opened an investigation into the cause of the fire, with the head of the IVR responding critically to the staff. In a statement he claims "Most of the staff ran away and left children and parents and their children to their fate."[22]

Four people have been detained in relation to the fire, including the head of the shopping complex's managing company.[3] Investigators reported that the fire alarm system had not been working the week leading up to the fire, rising into conflict with a previous report that a security guard turned it off.[23] The mall security guards were cited for failing to promptly turn the voice alert system on and that there is no reasonable explanation to why it occurred.[20]

Kemerovo Oblast deputy governor Vladimir Chernov said that the preliminary suspicion is that a child had a cigarette lighter which ignited foam rubber in a children's trampoline room and erupted in the fashion of gunpowder. There is also speculation that the contracted builders and owners of the mall cut safety corners in the electrical wiring. Several arrests of these people have already been made.[3]

Aftermath[edit]

Vladimir Putin in Kemerovo meets with citizens, 27 March 2018.

Politicians across the globe sent their condolences.[24][25][26][24][27][28] 28 March 2018 was declared the national day of mourning in Russia.[29][30]

A rally was held in Kemerovo demanding the resignation of Kemerovo Mayor Ilya Seredyuk and the longtime regional governor, Aman Tuleyev.[31] On April 1, 2018, Aman Tuleyev resigned as the governor of Kemerovo Oblast, citing "a heavy burden" of the Kemerovo fire, and President Putin accepted Tuleyev's resignation.[32]

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry claimed that the United States and European expulsions of Russian Diplomats in connection to the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter, was in fact showing disrespect to the deceased victims.[18]

Local media named the owner of the mall, as millionaire Denis Shtengelov. Shtengelov countered in an interview that his stake in the mall at the time of the fire was only a minority stake with other investors, however, he promised to pay compensation of 3-million rubles (about $52,500) to the family of each victim.[17] This would be in addition to the regional government's reported compensation to the families of victims, which is equivalent to $17,500 each.[14]

As of July 2018, the building is being demolished.[33]

Memorials and tributes[edit]

Across Russia, central squares were turned into memorials for those killed with flowers and candles.[14] A local memorial was erected in a plaza outside of the shopping center, and there was an influx of individuals donating blood for those injured.[21]

International memorials to the victims were erected in other locations, such as New York City.[34]

Criminal charges[edit]

The Investigative Committee of Russia brought charges under part 3 of Article 293 of the Russian Criminal Code; neglect of duty which has entailed by negligence the death of two or more persons, against the head of a firefighting unit No.2. According to investigation reports lead firefighter did not listen to an eyewitness, who reported that people were locked up on the fourth floor, but sent the unit to a farther location losing time.[35]

Several other criminal cases were initiated with seven individuals being arrested.[35]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Следователями получены заключения всех генетических экспертиз по уголовному делу о пожаре в Кемерово
  2. ^ "Число пострадавших при пожаре в Кемерове возросло до 79" (in Russian). Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "Russia fire: Children killed in Kemerovo shopping centre blaze". BBC News. 25 March 2018. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  4. ^ "Fire tragedy at Kemerovo shopping mall leaves at least 64 dead". TASS. 26 March 2018.
  5. ^ Mariya Petkova (28 March 2018). "Kemerovo fire: 'Mum, I love you, I'm dying'". Al Jazeera Media Network. Retrieved 31 March 2018. According to Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, local people reject the official number that has been announced. They believe that the number of victims could be anywhere between 150 and 400 and that the authorities are hiding bodies.
  6. ^ "They say Russia is trying to cover up the 'real' death toll in the Kemerovo fire. Is it true?". Meduza. 27 March 2018. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  7. ^ "Ukrainian prankster arrested in absentia over 'fake reports' on fatalities in Kemerovo mall blaze". Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  8. ^ "'Serious violations' at Russian shopping centre ravaged by fire". Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  9. ^ a b CNN, Radina Gigova, Mary Ilyushina, and Eliza Mackintosh,. "Entire class of schoolchildren feared dead in Russian shopping mall fire". CNN. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
  10. ^ a b c "Russia fire: Harrowing images show aftermath of 700C inferno which left 64 people dead, including children". Evening Standard. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
  11. ^ Nemtsova, Anna (26 March 2018). "'We Are Burning. I Love You': Dozens of Children Missing in Russian Mall Fire". Retrieved 26 March 2018 – via thedailybeast.com.
  12. ^ "Trapped children called their parents from burning mall – to say goodbye". 26 March 2018. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  13. ^ "Security guard switched off fire alarm system at Kemerovo shopping mall – investigators". TASS. 26 March 2018. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  14. ^ a b c d Ayres, Sabra. "'Tell everyone that I loved them.' A message from one of at least 64 presumed dead in Siberian fire". latimes.com. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
  15. ^ "Deadly fire in Russian shopping mall kills 64, many of them children". The Washington Post. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  16. ^ "'Anyone Would Do The Same': Tajik Shopkeepers Save Lives In Kemerovo". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  17. ^ a b c Vasilyeva, Nataliya. "Fire alarms silent, doors locked during Russian shopping mall fire that killed 64". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
  18. ^ a b Bodner, Matthew (27 March 2018). "Distraught residents demonstrate after Russian mall fire kills at least 41 children". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 27 March 2018. ... which killed at least 64 people — 41 of them reported to be children.
  19. ^ "64 dead, bodies remain trapped under rubble after shopping mall fire in Russia's Kemerovo". Russia Today. 26 March 2018. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  20. ^ a b "Fire alarm in Kemerovo shopping mall was out of service for a week — investigators". TASS (in Russian). Retrieved 2018-06-14.
  21. ^ a b "41 children were among those killed in Russian shopping centre fire". The Independent. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
  22. ^ "Fire in Russian Mall Kills 64 People, Most Fatalities Believed to be Children". Cosmopolitan. 2018-03-27. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
  23. ^ "Putin Says Deadly Mall Fire In Central Russia Due To 'Criminal Negligence'". NPR.org. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
  24. ^ a b "World leaders express condolences after Siberian shopping mall traged". TASS. 26 March 2018. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  25. ^ "Amir condoles on Russian blaze – 64 dead – ARAB TIMES – KUWAIT NEWS". 26 March 2018. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  26. ^ "The Latest: Pope says he's 'saddened' by Russian mall fire".
  27. ^ "Belarussian president extends condolences to Putin over shopping mall fire – Xinhua – English.news.cn". Xinhua News Agency.
  28. ^ "British prime minister offers condolences to Putin over Kemerovo disaster". TASS. 27 March 2018.
  29. ^ "28 марта объявлено в России днём траура" [28 March declared a day of mourning in Russia]. kremlin.ru (in Russian). President of Russia. 27 March 2018. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  30. ^ "Путин объявил день траура" [Putin declared the day of mourning]. lenta.ru (in Russian). Lenta. 27 March 2018. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  31. ^ "Russian Mall Fire: Protesters Demand Officials' Ouster". The New York Times. 27 March 2018.
  32. ^ "'Heavy burden': Russian governor resigns over Siberia mall fire that killed 64". The Guardian. 1 April 2018. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  33. ^ "Fotobanka ČTK - Titulní stránka : Demolition of Winter Cherry shopping mall goes on in Kemerovo, Russia". www.video-banka.cz (in Czech). Retrieved 2018-07-28.
  34. ^ "Memorial in honor of victims of fire in Kemerovo set in New York". russkiymir.ru. Retrieved 2018-06-14.
  35. ^ a b "Chief of Kemerovo's fire department charged with criminal negligence". Retrieved 2018-06-14.


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