Thirteen Dead In Ukraine Gas Blast: Report

DNIPROPETROVSK, Ukraine -- Thirteen people were killed and 23 others injured in a natural gas explosion at an apartment building in eastern Ukraine, said Emergency Situations Ministry Sunday, Interfax reported.

This handout photo released by the Ukranian Emergencies Ministry shows rescue workers carrying a body from the exploded apartment building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipropetrovsk.

The ministry earlier told AFP that 11 people had died in Saturday's incident in the city of Dnipropetrovsk.

One more body was later discovered under the rubble and another person died in hospital, according to a revised toll from the ministry, Interfax reported.

A total of 23 people, including six children, had been hospitalised, the ministry said.

Interfax reported that rescuers were still seeking at least 21 people who could have been caught inside the 10-storey building, home to about 400 people.

A team of around 100 rescue workers with sniffer dogs searched for survivors after emergency services evacuated residents from the remaining part of the block.

One woman tried to break through the police cordon around the block, sobbing: "Let me through! My daughter is in there!"

Local inhabitants later brought food, warm clothes and blankets to victims who found shelter at a nearby school.

The local gas company said that a sudden and still unexplained surge in gas pressure had triggered the explosion, without giving further information.

The explosion at 11:00 am (0800 GMT) destroyed part of the block and broke the windows of neighbouring buildings.

Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych said at the scene that the explosion was "probably" caused by a "breakdown" in the gas distribution system, Interfax reported.

Several people said they had smelled gas before the blast, while some residents reported suspicious behaviour by three men near the building's gas supply earlier in the day. This was not immediately confirmed.

The local prosecutor's office has opened an inquiry into the incident.

Source: Agence France Presse