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Russia Kemerovo fire – Putin cites ‘criminal negligence’

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The fire which killed 64 people, 41 of them children, at a leisure complex was caused by “criminal negligence”, President Vladimir Putin has said. Visiting the scene in Kemerovo, Siberia, Mr Putin berated “sloppiness”.

Investigators say the fire alarm was switched off and exits were blocked when the fire started on Sunday. Interfax news agency reported that some 300 people gathered outside the local government headquarters demanding the dismissal of authorities.

The cause of the fire is not yet known, but Russia’s Investigative Committee has spoken of “serious violations” at the Winter Cherry mall. “What is happening here?”, the Russian president said after laying a wreath at the scene. “This is no battle or an unexpected methane outburst in a mine.”

“People, children came to relax. We are talking about demography and are losing so many people because of what? Because of criminal negligence, sloppiness.”

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