THREE SUSPECTS UNDER INVESTIGATION IN CONNECTION WITH MARCH 16 APARTMENT BLOCK BLAST IN ARCHANGEL

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ST. PETERSBURG, MARCH 25, 2004. (RIA NOVOSTI). Three suspects are currently under investigation in connection with the March 16 blast in a residential building in the northern Russian city of Archangel, Prosecutor Alexander Apanasenko was quoted by regional government spokespeople as saying on Thursday.

The blast is blamed on a gas leak, which, in its turn, is believed to be a consequence of the theft of some vital parts from the apartment block's gas valves.

None of the three suspects have been detained, Apanasenko said. All the survivors and eye-witnesses have been interrogated by now; some of them testified they had seen suspicious people carrying tools and pipes out of the building a short time before the explosion.

The suspected gas blast occurred in the early hours of March 16, partially destroying the nine-story apartment building and killing fifty-eight people. But the fatalities also include a man who wasn't a tenant of this particular block and whose injuries were different from those sustained by all the other victims. His body was found in the very epicenter of the explosion, and forensic specialists say he might be one of the homeless thieves presumed to have stolen the gas valve parts, thus causing the deadly leak.

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