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Gas Leak Suspected In Russian Supermarket Blast

Members of the emergency services work at the site of a collapsed building after an explosion in Vladikavkaz on February 12.

A supermarket in the southern Russian city of Vladikavkaz was engulfed by a powerful explosion before opening hours early on February 12, causing major damage but apparently no deaths.

Authorities suggested it was caused by a gas leak, an all-too frequent danger from suspect infrastructure and sometimes lax safety enforcement in the sprawling country of around 144 million people.

The building housing the Magnit supermarket was said to have been nearly completely destroyed.

A security guard who was said to be sleeping inside the store at the time of the blast and found by rescuers reportedly escaped mostly unharmed.

"I fell asleep when it was nearly morning and woke up from the explosion," the guard said afterward, according to RIA Novosti. "I crawled out of there somehow."

The Interior Ministry said the market " was like a house of cards" and said the cause was unknown.

But later reports suggested a gas explosion was to blame.

Based on reporting by Current Time and Reuters