Criminal act feared as fire destroys shopping centre in Moscow

A criminal act is behind a devastating fire at one of Russia’s biggest shopping centres on the outskirts of Moscow, Russian emergency services believed.

The blaze, which broke out on Friday morning, has left at least one person dead, according to Russian media reports.

It happened at Mega Khimki shopping centre, north of the Russian capital, around seven kilometres from Sheremetyevo International Airport.

According to the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations which posted a message on Telegram, firefighters are fighting a fire with an area of 7,000 m2 in the Moscow region.

“Due to the collapse of the roof, the fire instantly spread to a large area,” the ministry said in Instagram, citing the difficulty of firefighters working on site.

Later, local news agencies reported that the emergency services suspect that a “criminal” act was behind the large fire.

“Deliberate acts, such as arson, are envisaged,” Interfax reported. The Sputnik agency specified that a criminal act was “one of the main explanations” considered for this fire. State agencies then cited a violation of safety standards as the possible origin of the fire.

Videos posted on social media showed a massive fire as people fled a burning building towards a parking lot.

The shopping centre had been home to numerous Western retail chains before they departed from Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, including one of the first IKEA stores in the Moscow area.

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