KIEV, Ukraine (AP) – A section of a five-story apartment building collapsed in western Ukraine early Sunday, killing two people and injuring one, officials said.
Emergency workers helped 18 other residents, including a 4-year-old child, climb down from the balconies of eight apartments on the undamaged side of the building.
Other residents who escaped the disaster were being fed at a soup kitchen set up at the site by the emergency workers and many were being taken to a city hotel for lodging.
The cause of the disaster was not immediately known, but Ukraine’s Channel 5 TV said authorities suspect unauthorized repair work being done in the building’s basement.
Buildings frequently collapse in Ukraine, where infrastructure is outdated and safety rules are often neglected.
Sunday’s disaster occurred at about 4 a.m. in the western city of Lutsk, 150 kilometers (90 miles) north of Lviv city, which is currently co-hosting the European football championship.
The Emergency Situations Ministry said the kitchens and living rooms of apartments were destroyed when the load-bearing structure running through them collapsed.
Yekaterina Nakonechnaya, a resident whose husband was killed, said she and her daughter were talking in their apartment when they saw sand running out from beneath wallpaper. “I said: `Our flat is so old, it seems like mice are already living here.’ And as I was saying this, bang and that was it.”
She said she survived in a corridor of the apartment and her daughter in the bedroom.
Television footage showed a giant gaping space in the gray building, which was constructed in 1971.
Lutsk Mayor Mykola Romanyuk said the disaster could have been much deadlier if the bedrooms also had collapsed.
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