Anger at 'negligence' that killed 64 in blaze at mall

Thursday, 29 Mar, 2018

Flags flew at half-staff across Russian Federation on Wednesday as the country mourned the victims _ many of them children _ of a shopping mall fire in Siberia.

President Vladimir Putin arrived to the city earlier today and met some of the survivors at the hospital.

Investigators have revealed that the fire alarms were switched off and that some exits were blocked.

The protest took place outside of the local government headquarters.

At least 53 people were killed when a fire ravaged a busy shopping centre in an industrial city in Siberia, with many more reported still missing on Monday, including children, AFP reports. The investigators have launched a criminal probe into possible negligence and violation of fire safety.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Head of state said that the cause of the fire was "criminal negligence and slovenliness".

Al Jazeera's Rory Challands reports from Moscow. 76 were reported officially at last count with 41 children.

"We're not calling for blood", he said.

Deputy Governor Sergei Tsivilyov talks to Kemerovo residents on March 27. She should have run out, but everything was locked.

On Russian social media and in independent publications some accused Putin of bearing responsibility for fostering the negligent official culture that led to the fire, in which bureaucrats feel greater responsibility toward their superiors than to ordinary citizens.

Flags were lowered and entertainment events cancelled for the day of mourning, three days after the devastating blaze on Sunday in the city of Kemerovo.

A national day of mourning is observed on Wednesday. Russian authorities have confirmed the deaths of 64 people but only 21 have been identified.

Crowds chanted "Resign", "The truth!" and "Shame!" to drown out officials' remarks.

"Vova and Aman to prison!" read another banner, referring to Putin and the local governor.

Police hold back protesters in Kemerovo.

"I mourn together with all the people", said the 28-year old computer expert Alexei Ivanov in St. Petersburg.

"We have been locked inside the movie theatre". Another detained suspect - a guard from a private security firm - will be charged shortly, Russia's Investigative Committee says.

"This tragedy is made even worse by the fact that children became victims of the blaze".

One of the trapped girls, Vika Pochankina, called her aunt saying they can't get out and asking to tell her mom that she loved her.