Russians mourned the victims of a horrendous shopping mall fire at memorial services across the country Wednesday, sending white balloons into the air while flags waved at half-staff.
The fire decimated the Winter Cherry mall in Kemerovo Sunday as families tried to enjoy the first weekend of spring break. The fire killed 64 people, 41 of them children, according to authorities.
Investigators released 21 bodies for burial, which led to grieving families to gather Wednesday morning with flowers and photographs at the first funerals.
A shopping mall security guard, who investigators blame for not turning on the alarm, was arrested on Wednesday, state news agency Tass reported. He told the press the alarm was out of order, but is one of two arrested and three detained in connection to the case.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who traveled to the city to offer his condolences, named Wednesday a national day of mourning. The president blamed “criminal negligence” for the fire and promised the people that the culprits will be rightfully disciplined.