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Latvian prime minister Valdis Dombrovski resigns over Riga supermarket disaster

Valdis Dombrovski's resignation was accepted by the Latvian president today

Latvia's prime minister has resigned after accepting political responsibility for the collapse of a supermarket roof in the capital that killed 54 people and wounded at least 40 others.

Valdis Dombrovski was the longest serving prime minister in Latvia's history. His decision also means his centre right government automatically falls.

"Considering the ... tragedy and all the related circumstances, the country needs a government that has a majority support in parliament and can solve the situation that has arisen in the country," Dombrovskis told journalists after meeting President Andris Berzins.

President Andris Berzins has accepted his resignation and will begin searching for a candidate who will need to put together a new coalition, the president's office said.

Police have since opened a criminal investigation into the cause of last week's tragedy, the worst disaster to occur in the country since it declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Dombrovskis came to power in 2009 as Latvia's economy was sinking into a deep recession and was charged with leading harsh budget cuts and tax increases while at the same time implementing tough structural reforms demanded by international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund.

Dombrovskis was re-appointed twice as prime minister since then, and is widely credited with preventing the small Baltic nation from going bankrupt. Latvia's economy has been the fastest growing in the European Union over the past two years.

Additional reporting by agencies