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10 workers die in Russia building fire, officials say

By The Associated Press

This article was published January 26, 2013 at 10:25 a.m.

— A fire ripped through a new Moscow building’s underground parking lot on Saturday, killing 10 migrant workers and injuring 13 others who had been working and living there, city police said.

All those who died were citizens of Tajikistan, Moscow police said in a statement. It said they were killed after a garbage heap on the floor they were working on caught fire, but the cause of the blaze itself was under investigation.

Several million migrants from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan — former Soviet republics that are now Central Asian nations — have come to Moscow in search of work. While many are employed in the city’s burgeoning construction industry, many work and even live on sites with nonexistent safety standards.

The Interfax news agency reported that Tashir Construction was responsible for the building’s completion, but quoted company spokeswoman Marina Gaze as saying the building was finished. She denied that the victims were company employees, and said the company would have to “clarify” who they were and why they were there.

The Federal Migration Service of Russia told the Itar-Tass news agency that routine checks at the building had revealed serious migration law violations that were being investigated by the agency.

The fire erupted at 1 p.m. and took nearly two hours to extinguish.

Russia has a poor fire safety record. The government’s Emergency Services department says nearly 14,000 people died from fires in 2009, the latest year with complete records.

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