Russian Federation mourns victims of deadly Siberian shopping mall fire

"In two or three minutes, such smoke had risen up".

Thousands of angry residents are rallying in the Russian city of Kemerovo to demand a full probe following a fire in a shopping mall that killed at least 64 people, many of them children.

Russian officials are calling off the search for victims of a deadly fire in a shopping mall in Siberia. Funeral services for 15 victims will be held today. "The provision of the help, hotline work, control over the payment of the compensations and release of the bodies to the relatives are planned", Mamontov claimed.

The chairman of Russia's federal investigating authority, the Investigative Committee, has indicated that a short circuit or bad wiring could be to blame for the blaze, state news agency RIA-Novosti reported. Earlier, he told press that the alarm was out of order. Five people have been arrested in connection with the blaze.

Flags are flying at half-staff across Russian Federation as the country mourns the victims, many of them children, of a shopping mall fire in Siberia.

Putin promised a "transparent" investigation but declined to fire Aman Tuleyev, who has been governor of the Kemerovo region for the past 21 years. "We've had that many times before".

About 660 firefighters worked to put out flames, among which no victims were reported, even though the fire covered some 1,600 square meters and the roof of the facility collapsed completely.

Anger boiled over at a vigil in Moscow, spawning a political demonstration. Some were holding photos of children who were killed.

Rallies in memory of the victims were held in several cities around Russian Federation, and at least one, in Moscow, turned into an anti-government demonstration. According to recent reports, the ensuing inferno took the lives of 64 people, including 41 children.

Rescuers are struggling to reach the upper floors because the roof of the four-story building collapsed. Some of the victims, many of them young children, died inside a locked movie theatre.

Security guards, supposed to help with any emergency evacuation, were reportedly among the first to flee when the fire broke out. "I'm suffocating, I'm fainting'". One message read: "Children, forgive us".

One fifth-grade student, Maria Moroz, posted: "We're burning". She should have run out, but everything was locked.

  • Jon Douglas