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Russia: One Detained In Blast Investigation

Moscow, 18 November 1996 (RFE/RL) - Russia's security service says it has detained one person suspected of taking part in the weekend explosion at a military housing complex in southern Russia in which at least 49 people have died.

Interfax says Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin was informed of the development by the head of the Federal Security Service, Nikolai Kovalyov.

Chernomyrdin had ordered Kovalyov to investigate the explosion in the town of Kaspiysk in the country's southern region of Dagestan. Kovalyov offered no further details on the detained suspect.

Meanwhile, rescue teams continue to sift through the ruins of the apartment block looking for survivors who still may be trapped under the rubble. Interfax quoted the Emergencies Ministry as saying that 39 survivors and 49 bodies, including at least 15 children, had so far been recovered.

Russia's border guards -- housed in the block -- issued a statement dismissing a possible gas leak as the reason for the blast. They said it was the work of what they called "cross-border criminals."

Russian officials have accused Chechen separatists of carrying out the explosion, a charge the separatists have denied.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin has decreed tomorrow a day of mourning for the victims of the blast.