An explosion in a residential building in the town of Khimki near the Russian capital, Moscow, has killed at least three people, including a child.
The directorate for the Emergency Ministry in the Moscow region said on March 19 that four people were also hospitalized after a natural-gas leak caused the explosion in an apartment on the eighth floor in a nine-story building earlier in the morning.
One of the injured is in serious condition, Emergency Ministry officials said. The officials gave no further details on those killed in the incident.
The explosion sparked a fire that raced through five apartments, demolished several balconies and destroyed barriers between the eighth and ninth floors of the building.
Regional Governor Andrei Vorobyov, who arrived at the site, said that all of the families affected by the explosion will be provided with compensation and all types of needed assistance.
Olga Vrady, a spokeswoman for the Investigative Committee, said a probe was launched into whether safety regulations were met at the building.
Gas explosions occur with some frequency in Russia due to aging pipelines and infrastructure, as well as lax safety standards.
Last month, authorities in the city of Vladikavkaz in the North Caucasus region said an explosion caused by a gas leak almost completely destroyed a supermarket. No casualties were reported as the explosion occurred outside business hours.