ASTANA, Kazakhstan: Nine people were killed when part of their apartment building collapsed in central Kazakhstan, the country's authorities said Monday (Jan 2), with an exploding boiler reportedly to blame for the carnage.
"Nine dead people were pulled from the rubble" of the building in the village of Shakhan outside the city of Karaganda, according to the central Asian nation's interior ministry.
The victims were three men, three women and three children. Five people, including a 32-year-old man and two children, were rescued alive from the rubble.
The search operation was called off later Monday, local media cited regional authorities as saying, as no cases of missing people were reported.
Authorities got word at 10.40pm on Sunday (1640 GMT) that part of the building had collapsed and they rushed 70 emergency workers to the scene.
Local media quoted regional governor Nurmukhambet Abdibekov as saying that a portion of the 60-apartment building could have collapsed following the explosion of a heating boiler in its basement.
"We will figure out what happened," the Tengri news website quoted Abdibekov as saying, adding that the building's residents had installed and serviced the boiler.
Pictures from the scene published by the interior ministry showed a digger shovelling through the rubble as emergency workers stood by.
The remaining residents have been evacuated, the ministry said, adding that a government committee has been set up to probe the incident.
A criminal case has been opened to determine whether the collapse could have been cause by negligence, local media reported.
Building collapses are also not uncommon throughout the former Soviet Union, either due to faulty construction or worn-out infrastructure.
In July 2015, 23 Russian conscripts were crushed to death when their military barracks collapsed in Siberia. Shoddy construction and lax safety standards were blamed for the incident.