As 41 children die in a fire in Siberia, thousands take to the streets in protest 2 years ago

As 41 children die in a fire in Siberia, thousands take to the streets in protest

In the Siberian city of Kemerovo, 3,600km east of Moscow, thousands of angry citizens have taken to the street.

They are protesting against the circumstances that led to the deaths of 64 people. It is believed that 41 of the dead are children and the BBC cites relatives who say that 85 people - also mainly children - are still missing.

Another family member said that trapped youngsters were calling their parents desperately begging for help and asking for emergency services to be sent in.

The fire broke out in a leisure complex; President Vladimir Putin has blamed "criminal negligence" for the tragedy, which took place on Sunday.

Igor Vostrikov lost his wife, sister and three children - aged two, five and seven - in the fire. The BBC quotes him as describing his wife's last moments when she phoned him: "There was no panic - she was saying goodbye." He added: "I have nothing more to lose."

Investigators say fire alarms were switched off or were broken and that exits were blocked; there are now calls for senior officials be sacked over the safety shortcomings.

Sunday's blaze started on an upper floor of the leisure complex at about 5pm local time (10am Irish time). It was the beginning of the Easter holidays, so the mall's shops, cinema and bowling alley were all packed.

The shopping centre covers 23,000 sq m and opened in 2013. It includes the likes of trampolines and a petting zoo; all the animals have also died.

A criminal investigation had now begun and on Wednesday, a day of mourning will be held throughout Russia.