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Death Toll Climbs In Moscow Water Park Disaster - 2004-02-15


The death toll continues to rise in Russia after the collapse of a glass dome at a Moscow water park.

Rescuers now say at least 24 people, including three children, were killed and more than 100 injured, when the roof of Moscow's Transvaal Water Park caved in late Saturday under the weight of several days of piled-up snow.

Authorities say the death toll is likely to rise, as rescue efforts continue. It remains unclear how many victims are trapped under the debris.

Hundreds of rescuers worked all night, digging through rubble by hand, stopping to listen for cries for help. As the overnight temperature plummeted to minus 20 degrees Celsius in the Russian capital, giant heating machines were brought in to pump warm air into the area to keep trapped survivors from freezing.

Many of the injured, including at least 19 children, were hospitalized with broken bones, concussions and bruises. Moscow's mayor (Yuri Luzhkov) says as many as 13-hundred people were inside the water park, basking in the indoor heat at the time of the collapse. About 350 bathers were in the pool area covered by the glass dome.

Most of the injuries were caused by shattered glass falling from the roof. Customers dressed in bathings suits fled into the frigid Moscow air to escape. Television showed concrete beams fallen onto a winding water slide.

Initial reports mentioned an explosion, but Russian police say there was no evidence of a blast.

Moscow has been on edge since at least 41 people died in a bombing on the city subway more than a week ago, blamed on rebels from the breakaway Russian southern republic of Chechnya.

The water park -- built two years ago -- has capacity for up to two-thousand visitors. It contains swimming pools, an artificial river and the water slide.

Information for this report is provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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