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    58 PEOPLE DIED IN APARTMENT BLAST IN ARKHANGELSK

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    MOSCOW, March 18, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov told the Finance Ministry and the Ministry of Emergencies to prepare projects to financially assist people injured in the explosion of an apartment building in Arkhangelsk.

    At a session of Government of Thursday, the Prime Minister expressed his condolences for the families of the victims of the explosion and for the Arkhangelsk region authorities.

    Sergei Shoigu, the minister of emergencies, said that 58 people died as a result of the explosion.

    He explained that 56 dead bodies have been found under the debris. Twenty-four people have been found alive under the debris, however two died in the hospital. He noted that nine people are still in the hospital and that the clean up work was almost complete.

    Mr. Shoigu said that the explosion completely destroyed one section and seriously damaged the other of the apartment building.

    Ministry of Emergencies rescue workers of the Tsentrospas and Leader detachments returned to Moscow from Arkhangelsk on Wednesday morning after they finished their search and rescue work.

    Presumably, there could still be people under the debris, but the exact number of people is unknown.

    Seventy-six of the over 800 rescue workers were from Moscow.

    Around 3:00 a.m., Moscow time, on Tuesday morning, the section of the nine story apartment building in Arkhangelsk was destroyed in what was presumably a natural gas explosion.

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