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Death toll in Moscow market roof collapse rises to 60

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Moscow, Feb 24 (UNI) The death toll in Basmanny market accident, where a snow-covered roof collapsed on the shoppers yesterday, rose to 60 with the death of another man today.

The 21-year-old man succumbed to his injuries in the hospital.

A source in the City's Emergency Medical Service told Interfax news agency that a total of 59 bodies, were found under the rubble of the collapsed market. Thirty-three people, including two rescue workers, have been injured in the accident.

The rescue work was completed after rescuers gave up the hope for any survivors. Head of the rescue team Alexander Yeliseyev told Itar-Tass news agency that the rescue workers had dug several tunnels through the rubble and examined the market cellars but no one was found there.

''Heavy machinery has been used to raise the concrete components that collapsed,'' Mr Yeliseyev said adding that excavators continued their work to clear the site.

''Most probably, there is nobody under the debris, either alive or dead,'' the news agency quoted spokesperson of the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry Irina Andreanova as saying.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said yesterday that the accident should be thoroughly investigated.

Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov denied that roof collapse was an act of terror.

''What I want to say, in essence, is that it was not a terrorist act or negligence on the part of personnel in the building,'' he told reporters on the accident site.

He said ''it is a catastrophe and our task is to investigate its causes. It is the responsibility of the prosecutors and experts on building construction, who must analyse the cause of the accident.'' Earlier in the day, 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 the spokesman 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.

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