Russia Mourns Victims of Deadly Mall Fire in Siberia

"We're talking about demography and losing so many people", Putin angrily told officials.

Investigators said fire exits had been illegally blocked, the public address system had not been switched on, the alarm system was broken, and children had been locked inside cinemas.

Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry said in a statement Wednesday that nationwide inspections have been ordered by the General Prosecutor's Office.

Investigators have said that the main theory they are looking into is that an electrical short circuit caused the fire.

"This tragedy is made even worse by the fact that children became victims of the blaze".

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny called on people to attend a protest event later on Tuesday in Moscow.

Emergency services minister Vladimir Puchkov said on Russian television: "We have recorded that unfortunately as a result of the accident 64 people died". "People came to rest, children".

Most of the mall's security staff "ran off" when the fire began, Bastrykin said. Investigators have not confirmed the cause of the fire, but the high death toll has been blamed on reported shortcomings in the mall's safety procedures.

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The pope sent a telegram Monday offering condolences for the dead, "especially the many children who lost their lives", and he offered blessings to those who are helping the injured and searching for the missing.

"We have been locked inside the movie theatre. I love you", he said she had told him.

The Investigative Committee is probing a Ukrainian blogger, Yevgeny Volnov, who posted his prank call to Kemerovo's morgue on YouTube, in which he was posing as an emergency official claiming that 300 people died in the fire.

He said five people had already been detained.

"At the moment 27 bodies were identified".

Tuleyev was widely scorned for telling Putin during a meeting the same day that the demonstrators "are not relatives of the dead, but constant troublemakers", and that only around 200 demonstrators had gathered in Kemerovo.

But even before the fire, Russian media reports had suggested that the Kremlin was planning to replace Tuleyev, 73, who has suffered problems with his health over the past year.

"Those workers who were supposed to be in charge of safety, organising evacuation, they were the first to flee", he told Putin.


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