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    MOSCOW, March 17, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - 43 people have been killed in the Arkhangelsk apartment-house blast to date, Victor Beltsov, chief of the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry's information department, told RIA Novosti over the phone. Mr. Beltsov is now staying at the disaster site.

    The body count includes 24 women, 12 men and seven children.

    70 % of all rubble has already been removed; rescue operations are still in full swing, Mr. Beltsov noted.

    The nine-storey apartment house No. 120 exploded at about 3.00 a.m. Moscow time March 16, with one of its sections collapsing as a result. The blast was presumably caused by natural gas.

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