Massive fire in Russian shopping centre leaves five dead and many more missing

Reports say that some shop owners were thought to have been trapped after re-entering the building to retrieve merchandise

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The Independent Online

A massive fire ripped through one of the largest shopping centres in the Russian city of Kazan on Wednesday, leaving five dead and 25 more missing and presumed dead.

The fire started in the one of the Admiral Centre’s ground floor cafes, quickly spreading to other parts of the building.

A massive plume of black smoke could be seen for miles around as the flames engulfed the centre and destroyed the 43,000 sq ft complex.

The roof collapsed due to the heat, trapping a number of shoppers. In total, 600 people had to be evacuated from the building. Forty of these were injured, with 16 being taken to hospital.

After extinguishing the fire, attempts were made to rescue the estimated 25 people still in the centre but Igor Panshin, head of the regional emergency services, said that these efforts had been “all but abandoned."

Officials from the shopping centre's management said that sniffer dogs were still being used in the hope of finding anyone still trapped under the debris.

Emergency workers say that the estimated number of missing people is based on reports from relatives and witnesses.

It is still unknown how exactly the fire started but Andrey Rodygin, the centre’s spokesman, said that it could have been caused by an “electro-technical [failure].”

Efforts were made by some business owners to save their merchandise but it is feared that this may have led to them becoming trapped as a result.

This is the third large fire to hit the city of Kazan in the last year. In October, a massive fire burned down another shopping mall in the city, while last summer saw a blaze sweep through a Vietnamese market.