KEMEROVO (CBSMiami) – Russian officials have declared this a “day of mourning” as funerals start for some of the 64-people, mostly children, who died in Sunday’s shopping mall fire.
Sergei and Natalila Agarov wept over tiny caskets as they said goodbye to their children, 10-year-old Maria and eight-year-old Konstantin. Hundreds of mourners joined in their sorrow, packing a church to pray for those killed in Sunday’s fire at a Siberian shopping center.
“Great grief is upon all of us”, intoned a priest at service, “There are no words that can express our common pain.”
Marie and Konstantin were with their grandmother, who also died, when a fire broke out near a kid’s play area and theatre at the mall. Of the 64 who died, 41 were children.
Many people across Russia are demanding a full probe into why fire alarms didn’t sound and emergency exits were locked. Investigators are looking at all possible causes, including an electrical malfunction and arson. Authorities have arrested five people, including two of the mall’s executives.
In court one of the mall directors said, “I am a mother myself. I understand what people who are now burying their children are experiencing, but I do not want to blame myself for this.”
But the blame is going around and Russians want answers for what see as lax safety standards, corruption, and ill-equipped fire crews.
Sunday’s fire was one of the deadliest in Russia in almost 30-years. President Vladimir Putin says 100 investigators are working on this case.