Vladimir Putin holds a meeting of the government commission on investigating the causes and dealing with the aftermath of the explosion in a residential house in Astrakhan
Transcript of the meeting:
Vladimir Putin: (to Sergei Shoigu) Mr Shoigu, everyone here is familiar with the tragedy that has occurred so let’s start with the updates. How many people have been rescued? How many people are still missing? We would like to hear the details.
Sergei Shoigu: Mr Putin, colleagues, many details have come to light with respect to the incident. The rescue operation continues. The whereabouts of two people are still unknown. At this point we have recovered eight bodies. A total of 15 people have been injured. Seven of them are in hospitals and their lives are not in danger. According to your instructions, we have prepared rescue units and teams in case any of them have to be transferred to one of the leading hospitals of the country. Fortunately, this has not been necessary so far. I hope it will not be necessary.
Five hundred and eighty people and a sufficient number of units of machinery are involved in the rescue operation. It will take another five hours to clear the debris as we have to stop every now and then to allow the dogs in and examine the site again.
Vladimir Putin: Let's hope that somebody can still be saved.
Sergei Shoigu: Yes, Mr Putin, for that reason we announce total silence and shut down all machinery from time to time.
According to your instruction and as a follow-up to the meeting with Mr Zubkov (Viktor Zubkov), a government resolution was drafted that stipulates the payment of compensation.
Vladimir Putin: Can you share it? Do you have it with you?
Sergei Shoigu: Perhaps Mr Zubkov can explain it better. (hands over the draft resolution)
Viktor Zubkov: Mr Shoigu has brought the resolution.
Vladimir Putin: (reading the draft) Is that it?
Sergei Shoigu: Yes.
Vladimir Putin: This resolution must be extended. How many residents lived in the house?
Alexander Zhilkin (Astrakhan Region Governor): There were 110 flats in the house with a total of 298 people. Three blocks of flats were affected. Obviously, I made a resolution as you instructed…
Vladimir Putin: All the residents must be relocated.
Alexander Zhilkin: I agree. Considering the nature of the incident, I agree.
Vladimir Putin: All the residents must be relocated. Experts and the city council must later decide what can be done with the remaining construction. To expedite the resettlement, we will extend this resolution and provide additional funds, around 300 million roubles, for new flats. Are these flats available?
Alexander Zhilkin: Yes, the housing is available. We drafted a corresponding resolution, which says that according to the Emergency Situations Ministry report, all the residents must be relocated. Flats are available for all of them.
Vladimir Putin: How long will it take to relocate the victims?
Alexander Zhilkin: We have already begun doing it today. Provided that we hold the necessary documents, I think we can manage it within 10 to 15 days.
Vladimir Putin: Good. (To Viktor Zubkov) Mr Zubkov, as we were talking on the way here we mentioned that there used to be a system of inspections by regional and city gas companies. Now these functions are the responsibility of building management companies. As the head of the government commission on investigating the cause of the incident, please work on boosting control over such high-risk facilities. Considering your position at Gazprom, it should be easy for you, although I understand that Gazprom has nothing to do with these incidents. At any rate, please look into this problem and submit the relevant proposals.
Viktor Zubkov: All right, Mr Putin. I would like to stress that the decision to provide new housing to all the residents of this house within two weeks, as you said, is important. But aside from this, I would like you to know that we are trying to help these people in many ways. They have lost almost everything. They have no furniture, no household utilities. Tomorrow I am meeting with representatives of several furniture manufacturers and home appliance producers. An agreement has been reached that we will help these people with furnishing their flats, with purchasing refrigerators, washing machines and other home appliances. This is what I am going to discuss tomorrow.
Vladimir Putin: Good.
Alexander Zhilkin: Furthermore, we will allocate one million roubles from the regional budget to each family that lost its flat, to be used for the purposes of relocation.
Vladimir Putin: Obviously, everything regarding compensation for lost property and deaths and injuries that resulted from it must be done in accordance with the law. This resolution will contain full information but it is important that people are aware of this, and that the media reports on the compensation that is available to each victim. I will repeat once again: we will additionally allocate around 300 million roubles from the federal budget, or just over 300 million roubles, in order to provide new housing to all residents of this house, and not only to those who lived in the part that was destroyed. I have just given the relevant instructions to the Finance Minister.
Alexander Zhilkin: Thank you, Mr Putin.
Vladimir Putin: Now tell me, what help is available to the people who were injured and are now in hospitals?
Maksim Topilin (Deputy Minister of Healthcare and Social Development): Mr Putin, we helped twelve victims. Seven were in hospitals as of yesterday evening. Two people were released from hospitals this morning and two more were recently released as they do not require medical assistance and there is no risk to their lives. Currently, three people are still in hospitals. In general, as Mr Shoigu has already said, aside from their injuries, they are safe now. I have just visited the hospital where two of them are being treated. One of them will undergo non-urgent surgery. As Mr Shoigu has said, no one has to be transferred to larger hospitals. Their relatives are here so I think they can get all the help that they require here.
Vladimir Putin: I hope that the law enforcement agencies will conduct a thorough investigation and that the cause of the tragedy will be announced as soon as the inquiry is finished. Proposals of the government commission on the incident are also dependent upon these findings. What is the state of the houses where the people are to be resettled? Where are they located?
Alexander Zhilkin: Houses are ready for new residents to move in. They are situated about twelve to fifteen minutes away from here in a quite good area where new housing is being constructed for residents of run-down and unsafe buildings.
Vladimir Putin: Shall we look at them?
Alexander Zhilkin: Let’s have a look.
Vladimir Putin: I would like to express my condolences to the families of those who were killed and to those who were injured. I expect that everybody who is present here in this tent will work hard to overcome the consequences of the tragedy in a short period of time. Now let's go take a look at the houses.