Building crumbles in Russia, one injured: officials

1st September 2010, Comments 0 comments

An eight-storey building under renovation crumbled Wednesday in Russia's second city of Saint Petersburg, leaving a woman injured, officials said.

One of three women working in shops on the ground floor of the former police headquarters was taken to hospital, prosecution investigators said, adding that the collapse could have been sparked by the removal of safes inside the building.

"The building was under renovation since July 31," a statement said. "Two days go the work was suspended because cracks had appeared while safes were being dismantled."

Interfax news agency quoted a woman who managed to escape from the building after hearing the noise of a heavy object falling as saying that only three people had been inside at the time of the accident.

"There were three people in the building, we all got out. There was no one there except us," the woman was quoted as saying.

The head of the local branch of the emergencies ministry, Leonid Beliayev, also said no one was hurt as a result of the accident.

Officials had earlier said people were feared trapped in the ruins, and Interfax quoted police and rescue workers as saying that homeless people could have been taking shelter there.

Witnesses said the outer walls remained intact and only the internal structures had collapsed.

Police sealed off the area, stopping all traffic and preventing local residents from going home.

Last month a breakdown at an electricity substation triggered a massive power cut in Saint Petersburg, leaving almost half of the former imperial capital without power for several hours, its worst urban blackout in half a decade.

© 2010 AFP

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