Russian President Vladimir Putin slammed the “criminal negligence” and corruption behind the tragedy in Kemerovo, Russia, where more than 60 people, including many children, died in a massive fire.
Speaking at a meeting with regional authorities on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said…
“The first feeling when they speak about the number of the dead and dead children – you want, not to cry, but howl.”
Some 50 people were injured or suffered from smoke inhalation in the blaze, the casualties made worse by violations in the mall building’s construction and management. Investigators have found that emergency exits were blocked, impeding mall-goers’ evacuations, and a guard is suspected of having turned off the building’s alarms. At least four people have been arrested in connection with the tragedy.
Speaking at a conference in Kemerovo, Putin said negligence and carelessness led to the tragedy.
“What is going on, this isn’t warfare, or a sudden methane outburst in a mine. People, children, came there to relax. We talk about demographics, and we lose so many people to what? To criminal negligence, to sloppiness,” Putin said.
Putin also implied that corruption was involved, as he called for a thorough investigation. “Every official’s actions need to be legally assessed,” he said. “They’ll sign anything for money.”
While visiting the grieving city, the president also made a stop at the local hospital where the survivors of the inferno are being treated. One of them – Ivan Zavarzin, 18, who jumped from the window to escape the blaze – told Putin that no one initially understood what was going on and even thought it was only a fire drill.
Some 41 children are among the 64 victims of the blaze, Interfax reports, citing a list of the deceased. The same numbers were reported by Ria Novosti, which cited sources in the emergency services. Witnesses who went to a local mortuary said there were around 20 adults among the dead, judging by the sizes of the bodies.