The explosion occurred at around 7:00 p.m. Moscow time (15:00 GMT) on Friday between the 11th and 12th stories of a 22-story building on Akademika Korolyova street in northeast Moscow, blowing out walls and destroying several apartments.
Ministry spokesman Yevgeny Bobylev told reporters that two women and one man died after being crushed by the collapsed ceiling.
Residents of the section hit by the explosion "are now being let back into the building to collect their possessions. But clearly, no one is being allowed onto the damaged stories of the building," Bobylev said.
Speaking at the scene yesterday, Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov said the explosion was unlikely to turn out to have been a terrorist attack and suggested that welders using faulty equipment could have been to blame.
Bobylev said that after the damaged parts of the building are examined, the unstable parts of the building will be dismantled.