MOSCOW (Reuters) - Around 25 people may have been killed and are still under the rubble of a shopping center that caught fire in the Russian city of Kazan, Interfax news agency cited the head of the regional emergencies ministry as saying on Thursday.
The blaze broke out on Wednesday in a first-storey cafe at the center, killing seven people, according to the latest media reports, and sending flames and black smoke high into the air.
"There may be up to 25 people under the rubble of the burnt-out shopping center in Kazan. No one among them is alive," said Igor Panshin, head of the regional emergencies ministry, was quoted by Interfax as saying.
"The roof collapsed and under the ruins there are people," he said, adding that relatives and store workers were unable to contact around 25 people who were known to be in the shopping center at the time of the blaze.
Emergency workers were continuing to clear away rubble late on Thursday in Kazan, about 500 miles (800 kilometers)east of Moscow.
Life News, which has good sources among Russia's law enforcement authorities, said around 200 people had been evacuated from the building in Kazan, the capital of Russia's Tatarstan region.
Panshin said emergency workers would need approximately two days to clear the rubble from the scene of the blaze, while Life News said 16 people were still hospitalized for injuries.
According to a regional emergencies ministry, nine foreign citizens have been injured, including citizens of Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
Reporting by Thomas Grove; additional reporting by Polina Devitt; editing by Ralph Boulton/Hugh Lawson