Four die in Russian apartment building collapse; searchers race weather

The collapsed portion of the residential building

Officials have said up to 40 people could be trapped under the rubble, at least seven of them children, after the explosion on Monday collapsed a large section of the residential building in the industrial city of Magnitogorsk, some 1,700km east of the capital, Moscow.

Four people have also been taken to hospital.

"It is in the character of our people, despite New Year's festivities, to keep in mind to think of the dead and wounded at this moment", Putin said.

At least four people were killed and dozens remain unaccounted for after a suspected gas explosion triggered the collapse of a section of a high-rise apartment building in the Russian city of Magnitogorsk early on New Year's Eve. Monday is a public holiday in Russian Federation.

The fate of 79 other people was not clear.

A total of 110 people were registered as residents of the affected section of the building, regional authorities said.

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This handout picture released by The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry shows emergency officers as they gather after a gas explosion rocked a residential building in Russia's Urals city of Magnitogorsk. Rescue efforts are underway.

Almost 1,400 rescuers searched for people who might be buried under building debris in temperatures of -17 C. The forecast called for temperatures to plunge to -24 C overnight.

Emergency service workers are trying to evacuate trapped residents.

The Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin had been "immediately notified of the tragedy in Magnitogorsk". It said the calamity could have been caused by a gas blast.

There have been several similar incidents in Russian Federation in recent years due to aging infrastructure and poor safety regulations surrounding gas usage.

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