Russian city authorities probed after icicle tragedy

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Authorities in Russia's second city of Saint Petersburg were under public scrutiny Friday following a tragic incident in which a child was killed by a falling icicle.

Six year-old Vanya Zavyalov died on the spot on Thursday in the northwestern city after a block of ice fell on his head from the roof of a five-story building. The boy was walking with his grandmother.

Russia's investigative committee of prosecutors said in a statement on Friday that it had opened a criminal probe into the boy's death and is trying to identify managers of the maintenance organisations responsible for the roof works, who "allowed for criminal negligence."

A deputy of the Russian parliament, Oksana Dmitriyeva, took it a step further Friday and demanded the local prosecutor launch a probe into higher city authorities, notably its governor Valentina Matviyenko.

A total of seven children have been hospitalised in the city since the beginning of the year with injuries from falling ice, including two who are in a critical condition.

At least two people have already died this winter in accidents related to poor snow removal in Saint Petersburg.

A two-year old girl sitting on a sleigh and an 89-year-old woman were run over by the city's trucks on the street as sidewalks became inaccessible due to huge piles of snow.

© 2011 AFP

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