64 people, including 41 children lost their lives in a fire at a shopping centre in Russia.

On Sunday afternoon at 17:00 local time (10:00 GMT) a huge blaze engulfed from the fourth floor of the Winter Cherry shopping centre and entertainment complex in the city of Kemerovo, in Siberia.

The shopping centre, which used to be a sweet factory in the Soviet-era and was converted into a mall in 2013 is reported to have had exits door blocked during the fire.

Anton Gorelkin, a Kemerovo politician said in a Facebook post: “fire exits were shut, turning the complex into a trap”.

On Monday, Svetlana Petrenko, a spokeswoman for the Russian Investigative Committee said: “Serious violations took place when the mall was being built and when it was functioning. The fire exits were blocked”.

5 people were taken into custody for what happened and among them is the technical director of the building’s owner.

Russian President, Vladimir Putin blamed the fire on Criminal negligence saying: “People came here to rest, children. We talk about demography and lose so many people because of what? Because of criminal negligence and carelessness”.

He also said: “Everyone will be checked one by one, from those who issued licenses to those who were supposed to ensure safety, particularly that private security company whose guard was just sitting there doing nothing and failed to push the button,”

Among all the condolences Russia received there was one from Pope Francis, who wrote a telegram saying: “His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the fire which struck the Winter Cherry complex in Kemerovo, and he offers heartfelt condolences to all those affected by this tragedy,”

He added:
“Entrusting the deceased, especially the many children who lost their lives, to the merciful love of God Almighty, His Holiness offers the assurance of his prayers for all who mourn their loss.”

The origin of the fire is still unknown.

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