After at least 19 people are confirmed dead due to an gas leak explosion at an apartment complex which destroyed an entire building, another killed three as a minivan blew up near the first disaster site in the Russian city of Magnitogorsk.
Three people there have also died after a minibus caught on fire not far from the apartment block, Interfax cited the Chelyabinsk region governor’s office as saying. Regional police told the news agency that “faulty gas equipment” inside the vehicle caused the deadly explosion.
Following anonymously sourced reports suggesting both explosions may have been acts of terrorism, Russia’s Investigative Committee said no traces of explosives have been found in the rubble. Footage shared by local media showed a ball of fire followed by sounds of explosives or firearms being discharged, reported The Moscow Times.
Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the site this week and demanded a panel be established to manage the relief efforts.
As rescue workers in Magnitogorsk continue to pull bodies from the rubble at Karl Marx Prospect, the city has found itself in the grips of a terrorism scare fueled by an exploded van, the unexplained evacuation of a residential building, the sudden closure of two shopping centers, and a series of reports from the media outlets Znak.com and 74.ru that the incidents are connected to a supposed manhunt for terrorists rumored to be responsible for the December 31 apartment collapse. Officials have denied these allegations, stating that the vehicle exploded because of a gas-tank malfunction. At the time of this writing, however, there has been no official explanation for the apartment building evacuation or the shopping mall closures, reported Russian news outlet Meduza.