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64 still missing after disaster at Siberia dam

Sixty-four people missing after a disaster at Russia's largest hydro-electric dam are probably dead, the owner said yesterday.

Twelve deaths have been confirmed at the Sayano-Shushenskaya power station near Cheryomushki, in southern Siberia, but many others are still unaccounted for.

"With every hour, there is less and less chance left that we will find somebody alive," said a spokesman for the state-run power company RusHydro.

A rescue was launched after a turbine room at the dam flooded on Monday. Amateur video of the accident posted on a Russian news site showed an explosion near the base of the dam amid a torrent of gushing water.

The emergency situations ministry said some victims drowned and others were crushed by debris. Another 14 people were taken to hospital.

Federal investigators said a transformer exploded during repair works, destroying walls and the ceiling in a huge engine room where turbines are located, causing the room to flood. However, RusHydro said the flood was caused by a water pressure surge.