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Russia’s fire ravaged mall built illegally: Investigators

IANS | Moscow |

A shopping mall that was ravaged by a deadly fire in the Russian city of Kemerovo, was built illegally, the Russian Investigative Committee (CIR) said on Friday.

The head of the region’s construction supervision body Tanzilia Komkova and the Director General of the company that owned the mall, Julia Bogdanova, have been arrested over the incident, CIR spokesperson Svetlana Petrenko was quoted as saying by Efe news agency.

Komkova had allegedly not taken measures to prevent the mall from operating, which had been built without the proper permits, according to Petrenko. She was suspected of abuse of power, Petrenko added.

Seven people have so far been arrested over their alleged roles in the fire that caused 64 deaths last Sunday.

The building housing the “Zimnyaya Vishnya” (Winter Cherry) centre was constructed in 1968 as a candy factory but refurbished as a shopping mall in 2013.

According to investigators, the fire alarm system had been disconnected and the doors to the two cinemas on the fourth floor were closed at the time of the blaze.

Meanwhile, according to a report in Tass news agency, Russian authorities have found over 2,700 fire safety violations in the country’s shopping malls following the fire tragedy in Kemerovo.

The commonly found violations were disorderly evacuation routes, the usage of combustible materials, the lack of fire safety instructions, poor knowledge of fire safety rules by the personnel as well as inactive fire extinguishers and alarm systems.

Most violations were found in the shopping malls of Kirov in western Russia, the news agency said.

The Sunday inferno was one of the deadliest blazes in Russia since 2009 when a fire killed 153 people at a nightclub in the city of Perm.