March 30, 2018 / 7:01 AM / 23 days ago

Executive at fire-ravaged Russian shopping mall arrested

KEMEROVO, Russia (Reuters) - Russian police on Friday arrested an executive with the firm that owns a shopping mall where a fire last weekend killed 64 people, most of them children.

Members of the Emergency Situations Ministry work to extinguish a fire in a shopping mall in the Siberian city of Kemerovo, Russia March 25, 2018. REUTERS/Maksim Lisov

Russia’s Investigative Committee, the state body that investigates major crimes, said in a statement the executive, Yulia Bogdanova, had failed to address shortcomings in fire safety at the shopping mall.

Bogdanova is the general director of a firm called ОАО Kemerovo Confectionary Combine, the owner of the “Winter Cherry” mall in the Siberian city of Kemerovo where the fire broke out on Sunday.

At the time, the top floor of the complex, where the fire started, was packed with families visiting a cinema and a children’s play area. Investigators said fire exits were blocked and the fire alarm system failed to function.

“The investigation established that Bogdanova, as the person responsible for fire safety, was repeatedly informed by subordinates about shortcomings in the building’s fire safety system.” It said Bogdanova did not deal with the shortcomings.

A lawyer who has acted for Bogdanova’s employer agreed to pass on to her Reuters questions about her management of the mall, but there was no reply. A woman who answered a phone number listed for Bogdanova said it was a wrong number.

Reporting by Polina Ivanova; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg

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