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At least two dead in Ukraine gas explosion

world Updated: Dec 25, 2008 09:22 IST

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At least two people died when gas exploded wrecking a four-storey building in the Crimea, south Ukraine, with the toll expected to rise, authorities said early on Thursday.

The blast occurred late Wednesday in a residential building in Evpatoria, a resort on the Black Sea in the west of the Crimean peninsula, the local emergency situations ministry said.

Two bodies were taken from the rubble hours after the blast, spokesman Volodymyr Ivanov said on the ministry's local radio station.

But the final toll was feared to be higher as up to 80 people could be buried under the rubble, with two parts of the building completely disintegrated, Interfax news agency quoted Emergency Situations Minister Volodymyr Chandra as saying.

Sixteen people, five of them injured, were helped out of the debris. More than 200 police and rescue workers were at the scene.

Gas explosions are not rare in Ukraine. In October last year 15 people were killed when a blast ripped through a nine-storey condominium in Dnipropetrovsk in the east of Ukraine.