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    EXPLOSION IN ARKHANGELSK KILLED 2-4 AND INJURED UP TO 17

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    MOSCOW, March 16, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - The explosion in an apartment block in Arkhangelsk (a regional center in the Northwestern Federal District) killed, according to different sources, 2-4 people and injured as many as 17 people.

    The Interior Ministry department of the Arkhangelsk Region reported that four people died, nine people were hospitalized, and medical assistance at the scene was given to four people. As many as 76 people lived in the 36 damaged apartments.

    The city civil defense directorate confirmed the death of two people and reported that 17 were injured. Citing the information of the passport department, the department officials said that about 55 people lived in the apartments. These people may be under the rubble.

    At 8.06 a.m. Moscow time an Emergency Situations Ministry (MChS) airplane carrying rescue workers left Moscow for Arkhangelsk, where a section of apartment building collapsed on Tuesday.

    "The aircraft is carrying 76 rescue workers and four search dogs. The group is headed by First Deputy Minister of Emergency Situations Yuri Vorobyov," the ministry's information department said. "The airplane is expected to land in Arkhangelsk at 10:00 a.m. Moscow time."

    According to the MChS press service, three people died and ten were injured and hospitalized as a result of the tragedy. More than 70 people may be under the rubble. The explosion occurred at 3:26 a.m. Moscow time on the fifth floor of the nine-story building. According to one of the versions, the blast was caused by a natural gas leak.

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