Russian shopping mall fire kills 64

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The blaze engulfed the four-story mall in the eastern city of Kemerovo on Sunday while it was packed with parents and children on the first weekend of the school recess.

As authorities try to find the cause of a shopping mall fire that killed 64 people, mostly children, the owner of a business there said it was sparked by a group who'd been escorted off the property. On 28 March, the Russian diplomatic mission was visited by several tens of citizens, heads of Belarusian ministries and government bodies, parliament, global organizations, representatives of Belaya Rus public association, the Belarusian Union of Women and the BRSM Youth Union, and heads of several foreign embassies in Belarus.

But many observers said the Kremlin's reaction was insufficient and belated.

"Possibly they didn't want to spoil the positive mood after the elections and there was hope that the tragedy would not turn out to be so large-scale".

The doors of one of the shopping centre's cinemas, where children were watching cartoon films, were locked and people did not hear alarms, Witnesses told Russian television.

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President Vladimir Putin has flown to Kemerovo but has not spoken to the protesters yet. The boy's parents and younger sister died in the fire, Skvortsova said. "Because of criminal negligence, because of slovenliness", Putin said.

At a funeral service in an Orthodox church in Kemerovo, about 3,600km east of Moscow, women wailed as prayers were sung over three coffins, including two small caskets for children.

On Monday morning, Kemerovo residents were bringing flowers, candles and stuffed animals to a plaza outside the mall, and local hospitals reported an influx of people wanting to donate blood for the victims. She had saved her daughter from the burning cinema but died after going back in to save others, pupils said.

The front pages of most newspapers were published only in black and white, while Komsomolskaya Pravda tabloid covered its front and back pages with photos of the victims.

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