12:55 GMT +321 January 2019
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    Death toll in Ukraine gas blast rises to 17

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    KIEV, October 16 (RIA Novosti) - The death toll following Saturday's household gas explosion in Dnepropetrovsk in south-central Ukraine has risen to 17, including 5 children, rescuers said on Tuesday.

    Rescuers said the latest body to be found was that of a young man who had been visiting a flat in the building when it collapsed. Rescuers are still searching through the rubble.

    The blast, which occurred on October 13 in a nine-story apartment block in Ukraine's third-largest city, caused a section of the building to collapse, and also damaged ten neighboring buildings.

    According to preliminary reports, the explosion occurred due to a sharp rise in pressure in the gas supply. The Ukrainian Security Service has ruled out terrorism as a cause of the disaster.

    Former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko has blamed Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, who controls the city's gas supply company Dneprogaz, for the explosion.

    The outspoken lawmaker said Dneprogaz recently carried out a policy aimed at reducing staff and cutting spending on infrastructure.

    She said lawyers for her eponymous political party were "preparing a lawsuit against the owner of Dneprogaz, ordering his company [Complex Energy Systems] to pay compensation for the damage," Tymoshenko said.

    The Ukrainian emergency situations ministry said earlier on Tuesday that 17 people, including three children, were still in hospital, and rescuers were continuing to search for ten people, including two children, believed to have been in the building at the time of the blast.

    Ukraine declared October 16 a day of mourning for those who died in the accident.

    The Ukrainian government has allocated 94 million hryvna ($18 million) in compensation for all those who have suffered following the accident and 5 million hryvna (about $1 million) for reconstruction work.

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