University building in St. Petersburg collapses during renovation

World Today

A Russian Emergency employee tries to get inside the collapse building of the Saint Petersburg National Research University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics in St. Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

A university building in St. Petersburg partially collapsed, trapping more than 20 people. Russia’s Emergency Ministry says it has already opened an investigation into safety violations.

CGTN’s Lucy Taylor filed this report from Moscow.

The building is close to the historic center of St. Petersburg. According to the Russian authorities, there was some renovation work going on there when the roof and several floors collapsed, from the fifth to the second stories.

It is part of the University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics, known as ITMO. The acting governor of St. Petersburg Alexander Beglov went to the scene.

“The constriction was underway. We are now trying to find out why the collapse happened. All the needed equipment and vehicles are on site,” Beglov said.

“The dogs have just arrived and are combing through the area. We have announced a minute of silence [to try to hear people under the debris]. We hope that there won’t be any victims.”

Investigators have opened a criminal inquiry into the incident, and whether any safety rules were violated. It is just a few weeks since another building collapse made headlines in Russia, in the Ural region. That collapse occurred after a gas explosion, killing 39 people and injuring 17 more.