October 15, 2007 / 3:16 PM / 13 years ago

Ukrainian blast kills 15

A sniffer dog walks on the debris of an apartment building that partially collapsed on Saturday after a gas explosion in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipropetrovsk October 14, 2007. REUTERS/Sergei Isaev

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said on Monday officials from a gas company had been detained in connection with a weekend explosion that killed 15 people and flattened part of an apartment building.

Several explosions in succession struck a residential area of the city of Dnipropetrovsk on Saturday, reducing part of a 10-storey apartment building to rubble. Damage was caused to adjacent sections of the building and neighbouring dwellings.

“The accounts of the ... Dniprogaz company have been frozen to ensure compensation for losses suffered by the state and individual citizens,” Yushchenko said in an address to the nation to be broadcast on television.

“A number of senior officials from this enterprise — the chief engineer and his first deputy — have been detained on suspicion of professional negligence.”

Yushchenko said the death toll in the accident had risen to 15 and called a day of national mourning on Tuesday.

The city’s gas service had said the explosion was caused by a sudden surge of supplies to the area and by outdated equipment. Local authorities have agreed to rehouse all residents of the building suffering the most damage.

Ukraine’s Emergencies Ministry had earlier announced a death toll of 14 and said rescue efforts were proceeding to find eight people still missing. Seventeen people remained in hospital.

Gas explosions in apartment buildings are regular occurrences in Ukraine, often with loss of life and considerable damage.

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