( dpa ) - The death toll rose to six after a natural gas blast tore through an apartment building in the Russian Caucasus Monday.
Others were still feared trapped beneath the rubble in the town of Yessentuki, at the base of the Caucasus mountains, officials said.
The early morning explosion blew out the entire middle section of the five-storey cement building.
State television showed rescue workers, hoisted by cranes, balancing on the edge of the gaping whole in the Khrushchev-era apartment bloc.
"Sifting through the four destroyed apartments, rescue workers have found the bodies of six victims," news agency Interfax quoted a Stavropol regional official as saying.
Among the dead in one family's flat were a grandmother and four- month old baby.
Eight people have been rescued from the ruins, and five have been hospitalized.
"We think one more may be under the debris," Interfax quoted a rescue worker as saying as efforts continued Monday.
Sixty people have been evacuated from the building, and housed nearby in the state-electricity company offices, officials said.
The explosion, which did not spark a fire, was apparently caused by a gas leak.
"One of the tenants might have used the stove's oven for heating the apartment," rescue workers said.
Four homes collapsed as the explosion ripped through the 48- apartment building.
Last week, a natural gas blast destroyed 12 apartments in Kazan, 800 kilometres east of Moscow, leaving eight dead and one woman hospitalized.
Disregard for safety regulations and poor infrastructure in Russia has resulted in frequent gas explosions in apartment buildings and state facilities.