12 July 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Reports say the death toll in the 11 July fire at a shopping center in northern Russia has risen to 24.
Russian news agencies say four bodies were found overnight in the
collapsed building in Ukhta.
Yurii Knyazev, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office in the Russian Republic of Komi, described the incident.
"Two teenagers ran into the commercial space of the first floor of the Passazh store in Ukhta and hurled an incendiary bottle," Knyazev said. "As a result, a fire broke out and spread very quickly because of walls were covered with synthetic material. A terrorist act, or simply teenagers' hooliganism or competition war -- there are different versions [we are working on]."
Police say the fire was most likely the result of arson by a criminal gang "settling accounts."
Arson Attack On Shopping Center Kills 24