The body count at the building collapse in Yevpatoria, south Ukraine, has risen to 27 and a national day of mourning has been declared. Twenty-one residents have been pulled out alive, but rescuers say there is little hope for anyone else still under the rubble. Around 20 people are unaccounted for. Officials do not know how many were in the five-floor building at the time of a suspected gas explosion on Christmas Eve.
Ukraine’s President and Prime Minister visited the scene of destruction together. They offered their condolences, promised new housing before the Orthodox new year (January 7), and 9,000 euros in government support for each of the suffering families. The apartment block was in an outlying community of the Black Sea resort of Yevpatoria, on the Crimea Peninsula. This part of Ukraine used to belong to Russia, and half of Crimea’s population is Russian. The Kremlin has even offered help from the Black Sea Fleet, harboured in the Ukrainian port of Sebastopol.