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Russian apartment block collapse deathtoll rises to 39

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By Mark Armstrong  & Darin Graham with Reuters
People leave tributes near the site of the partially collapsed building
People leave tributes near the site of the partially collapsed building   -   Copyright  REUTERS/Andrey Serebryakov
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At least 39 people died after an apartment block partially collapsed following a suspect gas blast in Russia, authorities said.

The explosion damaged 48 apartments in a 10-storey block in Magnitogorsk on Monday at around 4 am local time.

Most residents were still asleep and Russia's regional ministry agency said at least four remain unaccounted for.

On Tuesday, rescuers found a 10-month-old baby alive in the rubble calling the boy's survival a miracle.

The country's investigative agency initially said a gas leak possibly caused the blast but said a probe into the reason behind the collapse is still ongoing. It added that no explosive materials have been found on site so far.

President Vladimir Putin meanwhile, visited the site on Monday, about 1,400 kilometres southeast of Moscow, and went to a local hospital to visit the injured.

Citing the emergencies ministry, RIA news agency said 110 people lived in the building.

Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova told Russian state television that the chances of finding survivors were diminishing as the days wore on. Freezing temperatures of around -22 Celcius increased the urgency of finding survivors quickly.

Similar incidents are not uncommon in recent years due to Russia's ageing infrastructure and poor gas safety regulations.