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Death toll in Moscow market roof collapse rises to 56

By Staff
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Moscow, Feb 24 (UNI) The death toll in Moscow's market roof collapse rose to 56 today, the head of the rescue team Alexander Yeliseyev said.

He told Itar-Tass news agency that rescue workers had dug several tunnels through the rubble and examined the market cellars but found no one there.

''Heavy machinery has been used to raise the concrete components that collapsed,'' Mr Yeliseyev said. Thirty-two people, including two rescue workers, were injured, in the accident yesterday.

''We should study two or three places where the slabs may collapse. We can find at least four people under the debris,'' an official of the Russian Emergency Situation Ministry told the agency, last night.

''We are preparing a passage for heavy equipment to be used to remove the rubble from the collapsed market. The square is vast that is why we decided to use heavy equipment,'' the rescuers said.

Investigators interrogated Mr Nodar Kancheli, the architect who designed the market building, a spokesman for the city prosecutor's office said.

''He was questioned in connection with the investigation,'' RIA Novosti news agency quoted him as saying.

Mr Kancheli also designed the Transvaal water park building in the capital that collapsed on February 14, 2004, killing 28 people and injuring many.

''We are planning to interrogate him in the future depending on the results of further investigation,'' the spokesman said.

Mr Kancheli said the accident might have been caused by improper maintenance of the building or by excessive amount of snow on its roof.

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