The investigation views a household gas leak as the main cause of an explosion that hit a residential block in the city of Shakhty, Rostov Region, Russian Investigative Committee Spokesperson Svetlana Petrenko told TASS.
"A household gas leak is being viewed as the main cause of the blast," she said.
According to the spokesperson, Investigative Committee chief Alexander Bastrykin has ordered the Main Investigative Department in the North Caucasus Federal District to open an investigation under Article 109.3 of the Russian Criminal Code (negligent homicide of two or more persons). "Searches of gas and utility providers’ offices are underway, documents are being seized," Petrenko said, adding that investigators are also questioning the building’s residents and witnesses of the accident.
According to preliminary information, on January 14, a gas and air mixture exploded between the eighth and ninth floors in one of the sections of an apartment building in Shakhty. "One person has been confirmed as dead. She has been identified: it is one of the building’s residents, born in 1987," Petrenko noted.
"Rescue efforts continue at the site. Once they are over, investigators will examine the site," the Investigative Committee’s spokesperson said.
According to the Russian Emergencies Ministry, seven people were rescued alive following the explosion but four are still unaccounted for. The explosion damaged four apartments on the ninth and eighth floors. A total of 140 people have been evacuated from the 72-apartment building.