Massive fire breaks out at Moscow business centre with dozens of people feared trapped as Putin’s former bodyguard races to the scene of Russia’s latest mystery blaze
- Fire broke out today at ten-storey business centre in Moscow suburb of Kuntsevo
- 120 people were rescued from the building but up to 40 more are feared trapped
- New emergencies minister, a former Putin bodyguard, is overseeing the rescue
- Comes amid a series of mysterious fires at sites with links to the Russian government or military, amid rumours of a Ukrainian sabotage operation
A Moscow business centre has burst into flames today, the latest in a series of mystery blazes to hit Russia amid rumours of a Ukrainian sabotage campaign.
Dozens of people are feared trapped inside the ten-storey Grand Setun Plaza building in Moscow’s Kuntsevo district after a fire broke out early Friday.
Major-General Alexander Kurenkov, Putin’s former bodyguard who was recently appointed emergencies minister after his predecessor fell to his death from the top of a waterfall, went to the scene to oversee the rescue operation.
A fire broke out at the ten-storey Grand Setun Plaza business centre in the Moscow suburb of Kuntsevo on Friday morning
Fire crews managed to rescue around 120 people from the building, but there are fear that up to 40 more could have become trapped inside
It is not yet clear how the fire started, but it comes amid a series of mysterious blazes at buildings with links to the Russian government and military
Some 120 people had been rescued from the building by firefighters as of late Friday morning, a spokesman for the ministry said.
However, between 20 and 40 people were feared to be trapped inside with no word on their exact whereabouts or condition.
‘The search for people continues,’ the spokesman said as a Ka-32 firefighting helicopter was deployed to the scene.
The exact cause of the fire is currently unknown, but it comes amid a spate of blazes that have struck military and government facilities amid rumours of sabotage.
Moscow has been at the epicentre of the blazes, including one two weeks ago which consumed the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute in the outlying city of Zhukovsky.
The fire began at a power substation supplying the institute, 43 miles southeast of Moscow, which has been crucial to the development of aircraft such as the Su-27, MiG-29, and MiG-31 fighters which are in use in Ukraine.
Two chemical plants with links to the defence industry suffered fires, one at Kaprolaktam, in Dzerzhinsk, which once made chemical weapons, on 4 May, the other two weeks earlier at the Dmitrievsky plant in Kineshma.
Another fire raised questions of sabotage was at a Russian missile design institute in Tver in which 22 weapons officials and designers died.
The blazes may have been sabotage attacks by Ukraine aimed at ‘dissuading [Putin’s] weapons of mass destruction brinkmanship’, says a US expert.
Professor Douglas London, of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, and a retired 34-year CIA operations officer, told Foreign Policy that some recent incidents may have been sabotage linked to the war.
‘US and allied enabling of a Ukrainian sabotage campaign inside Russia telegraphs a significant and escalating cost Putin can ill afford,’ he said.
Russia’s leading independent gun-maker urged the Russian authorities to be more suspicious of sabotage over the wave of fires.
Vladislav Lobaev said: ‘The Dmitrievsky chemical plant in the city of Kineshma burned down.
‘It is the largest Russian manufacturer of chemical solvents used in a variety of industries….
‘Separately, the building of the defence research Institute in Tver burned to the ground…
‘It was at this institute that the Iskanders and the S-400 were developed.’
He warned: ‘It is hard to believe in such coincidences, especially with large or such iconic enterprises.
‘In wartime, it is necessary to work out the version of sabotage more actively.’
A firefighting helicopter drops water on the Grand Setun Plaza business park after a large fire broke out inside on Friday morning
A series of mysterious fires has broken out across Russia, largely at sites with links to the government or military amid suspicions of Ukrainian-backed sabotage
TIMELINE OF SUSPICIOUS INCIDENTS INSIDE RUSSIA:
March: In an unconfirmed date in March, five recruitment centers in Moscow were set on fire in the Voronezh, Sverdlovsk and Ivanovo regions
April 21: Russian officials said 17 people died in an Air-Space Defense Research Institute in Tver, 180km NW of Moscow, developing S-400 AD system and Kalibr Missile
April 21: Dmitrievsky chemical plant in the city of Kineshma explodes, 950km from Ukraine
April 22: As many as five Russian military enlistment offices have been set on fire in Ivanovo
April 22: The Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia is filmed on fire in Russia
Donetsk People Republic Emergency Situations Ministry firefighters work at the site of fire at the oil depot after missiles struck the facility in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces in Makiivka
April 23: A hydroelectric complex collapses, Kuban
April 25: Bryansk Oil depot, a Rosneft production site, is set alight
April 25: Ussuriysk military air force base is reported as on fire
April 28: A fire is filmed within a construction site in Minsk, Belarus
April 28: Cars marked with the nationalist Russian symbol ‘Z’ were filed on fire in Moscow
April 29: Multiple buildings burn in Russia after a fire raged at a shopping centre in Ishim
April 30: A GRES-2 120-megawatt coal-fired power plant was reportedly sabotaged in Sakhalin
A fire at a Russian arms factory killed at least two workers, local officials confirmed
May 1: videos documented fuel-oil tanks burning in Mytishchi, a fuel depot only thirty minutes from the Kremlin
May 1: Photos suggested a railway bridge in Russia’s Kursk region was destroyed due to sabotage
May 2: Film showed a fire at a munitions factory facility in Perm, near the Ural Mountains
May 3: A fire at a four-floor pro-Kremlin publishing warehouse broke out in the Bogorodsk urban district of the Moscow region
May 4: Footage emerged of a large fire in the Dzerzhinsky industrial zone in the Nizhny Novgorod region
May 4: A Russian military enlistment office in Nizhnevartovsk was hit by multiple Molotov cocktails
May 8: A warehouse catches fire in Novoaltaysk
May 8: The Aviation College sets on fire in Perm
Footage shows a large fire in the Dzerzhinsky industrial zone in the Nizhny Novgorod region
May 11: The Great Patriotic War memorial was filmed on fire in Peledui, Yakutsia
May 13: The military registration and enlistment office in Omsk was hit with Molotov cocktails
May 13: A large fire broke out in the press service of the Ministry of Emergency Situations for the Sverdlovsk Region
May 13: A fire was recorded next to the Theatre for Young Spectators in Irkutsk Russia
May 15: A fire occurred in the production building of the Gloria Jeans company in the city of Shakhty
May 16: The DM Tower Business Centre in Moscow is filmed on fire
May 17: A blaze engulfed a chemical plant that makes plastic in Berdsk, central Russia
May 20: A transformer substation caught fire on the territory of the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute in Zhukovsky
June 3: Fire breaks out inside ten-storey Grand Setun Plaza business centre in Moscow suburb of Kuntsevo
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