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Fire engulfs skyscraper in capital of Chechnya

April 03, 2013|By Emily Alpert

Firefighters were battling a massive blaze that engulfed most of a 40-story building in the capital of Chechnya, Russian news agencies reported Wednesday.

The building, one of several skyscrapers in the Grozny City complex, is the tallest in Chechnya, the Russian state news agency reported. Police and emergency officials told local media that no one had been killed or injured as the building went up in flames; the Associated Press reported that the building was unoccupied. The cause of the fire was not immediately known.

Videos and photos of the fire spread online showed dark smoke pouring from the edges of the towering  building as the flames spread upward. Helicopters were sent from the southern city of Pyatigorsk to help quash the blaze, the Russia Today television network reported.

The skyscraper is part of a complex that was inaugurated a year and a half ago. When the Grozny City complex was opened in 2011, the New York Times described it as “the centerpiece of a transformation that has changed the capital of Chechnya from the charred wreckage that was left after the wars of the 1990s and remained until only a few years ago.”

The Grozny complex also garnered attention after Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov gave French actor Gerard Depardieu a five-room apartment there, the Russian state news agency reported. The Associated Press reported that apartment was in a neighboring building.

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