Vladivostok fire witnesses dispute official death toll of nine, claim at least 50

Monday, January 23, 2006

At 11:45am on January 16, in Vladivostok, Russia, a fire broke out on the three upper floors of the Sberbank building.

Photographs taken by eye-witnesses show people, who were trapped, dropping from 8th floor windows to their deaths. According to some reports the firemen who were dispatched to the scene were pre-occupied at the rear of the building. They had apparently been ordered to evacuate the bank and its management from the area, which was not under immediate threat.

Official Russian media initially denied the fire, accusing the reports of being false.

Russian media later confirmed 7 and then, 9 dead. Witnesses and those rescued from the burning building have claimed that the figure exceeds 50.

A maintenance employee who worked in the building was quoted as saying, “I know at least about 13 dead inside … that’s the least I’ve noticed, not to consider those who’ve dropped down … 8 of them dropped, looking at the three already dead on the ground, but they went through the windows without hope to be rescued … They collected and hid the dead bodies inside. I work at this building! I know its layout very well! To declare, as it become clear, a less number of the dead later.”

“My daughter worked in a justice department,” – Natalia, one of the witnesses said. “She said that there were actually much more dead – up to 70. She went on the dead bodies, getting out from the building … some of them were so scorched, that it was impossible to identify them… 9 victims? That’s a lie!”

Georic, a witness: “The cops (“menty”), whom I know, say that they’ve been loading the dead bodies all night long.”

Lelya has posted her evidence on January 21, 2006 on the web-site http://news.vl.ru/vlad/2006/01/18/tradegy/ “My brother worked in that building, on the 6th flour. So, the night after the fire they visited the building to collect the documents, etc. and they saw how workers transported the dead bodies. He said, there were 50-60..”

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