Rescue operation in collapsed Ukrainian building ends
A rescue operation to recover bodies from a collapsed block of flats following a serious explosion that resulted in 27 deaths in Ukraine ended Saturday, dpa reported.
There were three children among the dead after two sections of the five-storey Soviet-era prefabricated building in the Black Sea resort city of Evpatioria collapsed Wednesday evening, destroying 32 flats.
The exact cause of the collapse was still unclear, but media reports laid the blame at explosive material stored in the basement of the building.
Investigators said they were looking into various possible causes of the explosion.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymnoshenko said there was a "criminal background" to the accident.
She accused the authorities in the health resort town of negligence.
She said there had been an illegal workshop in the basement of the building where highly explosive gas was used despite protests from the residents.
The gas was believed to be a mixture of oxygen and acetylene.
State prosecutor for the Crimean peninsula, Vladimir Boyko, stressed that there was not yet "any proof for any version (of events)."
He said investigators were also looking into defective gas pipes in the building or gas cylinders that exploded as a cause for the collapse.
There were some 20 survivors of the collapse, many with broken bones and other serious injuries.
Damage to adjoining sections made the rest of the building uninhabitable.