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February 28, 2006

Police make arrest in Moscow market fatal roof collapse

MOSCOW

The director of a Moscow market where the roof collapsed, killing at least 58 people, has been detained, prosecutors said, as hope faded for finding anybody alive under the rubble.

Sergei Marchenko, a spokesman for the city’s prosecutor’s office, declined to identify the director and said he could give no information on charges. Media reports suggest he was charged with negligence leading to deaths.

The RIA-Novosti news agency quoted chief prosecutor Anotoly Zuyev as saying prosecutors had written the market director in December about maintenance violations, but he did not specify what they were.

Officials earlier said there was little chance that terrorism was to blame for the collapse and Zuyev said Thursday that the probable cause was either the buildup of heavy snow, design flaws or maintenance errors.

The market was designed by Nodar Kancheli, the same architect who drafted the plans for Moscow’s Transvaal water park, where the roof collapsed in February 2004, killing 28 people. Prosecutors have blamed that collapse on design flaws.

Mayor Yuri Luzhkov said the city had already been planning to tear down the market and build a new, modern shopping mall in its place.

Luzhkov said there was virtually no hope of finding survivors.

“Maybe there is some kind of zone where there may be people, but the probability of this is very small,” Luzhkov said outside the crumpled market, where power shovels scooped up tonnes of rubble and distraught people sought news of their missing relatives.

Associated Press

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