Emergency services suspect that a “criminal” act is behind a major fire at one of Russia’s biggest shopping centres on the outskirts of Moscow.
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.
“Firefighters are fighting a fire with an area of 7,000 m2 in the Moscow region,” announced on Telegram the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations.
“Due to the collapse of the roof, the fire instantly spread to a large area,” the ministry said on Instagram, citing the difficulty of firefighters working on site.
Russian emergency services suspect that a “criminal” act was behind the large fire, Russian news agencies reported shortly after, referring to sources within the emergency services.
“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.