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Russia: Deadly Blast Rips Moscow Apartment Block

Moscow, 9 September 1999 (RFE/RL) - At least 15 people are reported dead and scores of others injured after a powerful blast tore through a Moscow apartment block early today. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced the death toll at the start of a cabinet meeting this morning. Rescuers worked through the night to find survivors of the blast, which occurred shortly after midnight local time in a nine-storey building in Moscow's southeastern municipal district. Authorities say over 50 people have been taken to hospital. There is no clear figure yet on how many people are missing. The Emergencies Ministry said the cause of the blast has not been determined, although officials say it was possibly a natural gas explosion. The Federal Security Service says that it does not rule out the blast may have been caused by a bomb.