Russia mourns victims of deadly fire in Siberia

Russia mourns victims of deadly fire in Siberia

Flags fly at half-mast across Russia today as the country mourn the victims - many of them children - of a shopping centre fire in Siberia.

The blaze engulfed the four-storey shopping centre in the city of Kemerovo on Sunday while it was packed with parents and children on the first weekend of the school break.

Investigators identified a short circuit as a possible cause and said the emergency exits were locked shut, hampering an evacuation.

Some of the victims, many of them young children, died inside a locked cinema.

Today was declared a day of mourning in Russia, and thousands of people have been bringing flowers and toys to makeshift memorials across the country.

The investigators have released 21 bodies for burial.

The first funerals of the victims are to be held on Wednesday in Kemerovo, a city of half a million that has been paralysed with grief.

Thousands of angry and distraught residents rallied on Kemerovo's main square on Tuesday for 10 hours, demanding that local officials conduct a full and transparent probe.

Some locals mistrust the official reports that put the death toll at 64.

Deputy emergency situations minister Vladlen Aksyonov told the RIA Novosti news agency on Wednesday that the bodies of all 64 victims have been recovered and that no one is unaccounted for.

- PA

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