Apartment Blast Kills 19 in Ukraine

Gas explosion suspected as rescuers look for survivors
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User
Posted Dec 25, 2008 12:10 PM CST
Rescuers work under the debris of the shattered five-story apartment building.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Rescuers could hear cell phones ringing in the rubble as they pulled bodies from an apartment building in southern Ukraine that collapsed after an explosion last night, Reuters reports. At least 19 people are dead and 24 missing after the blast, likely caused by oxygen stored in the basement. All five stories were flattened, leaving behind debris containing wires, broken furniture, and children’s toys.

Ukraine’s president and prime minister put aside differences and arrived together in the Crimean peninsula resort town of Yevpatoria. They vowed to find shelters for affected families before Orthodox Christmas on Jan. 7. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pledged aid for the region, where half the population is Russian. Gas blasts are common in Soviet-era buildings, especially in winter.