Russian military barracks collapses; 23 dead
MOSCOW, July 13
Twenty-three Russian soldiers were crushed to death after their military barracks collapsed in Siberia, the latest disaster to hit a country known for shoddy construction work and lax safety standards.
An entire section of military barracks, including parts of the roof and walls, collapsed yesterday evening just outside the Siberian city of Omsk as paratroopers were resting, the defence ministry said.
“As a result of the collapse, more than 40 servicemen were injured,” Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said today. “Twenty-three conscripts died, the others were hospitalised with various injuries.”
Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said 19 servicemen had been hospitalised.
The barracks — built in 1975 and renovated in 2013 — belong to the 242nd training centre that prepares junior officers and armoured infantry vehicle drivers, among others.
President Vladimir Putin has been informed of the incident, which occurred in the village of Svetly just outside Omsk, some 2,200 km east of Moscow, a Kremlin spokesman said.
“The president expressed condolences to the families of the victims of the accident at the Omsk training centre,” the Kremlin said.
Putin was regularly being briefed by Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, who has been tasked with providing all necessary assistance to the victims, the Kremlin added.
Nearly 350 rescue workers and search dogs have been dispatched to the scene, along with military prosecutors.
“Rescue works lasted through the night,” a spokeswoman for the governor of the Omsk region told AFP. “The governor was there all night.”
Authorities tied the collapse of the barracks to negligence on the part of construction workers.
The Investigative Committee, which reports directly to Putin, opened a probe into negligence, violation of safety rules and abuse of power, adding that those found guilty would face up to 10 years in prison.
Markin, the committee’s spokesman, said investigators were probing several explanations for the tragedy, including possible violations during renovations in 2013.
The latest tragedy represents a major blow to Putin who has made reviving the army after years of post-Soviet neglect a cornerstone of his policies.
The barracks has become the “paratroopers’ mass grave,” broadsheet daily Kommersant said.