Moscow, March 28, 2018
Prayers for the repose of the victims of Sunday’s mall fire in the Siberian city of Kemerovo were offered today in all parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church, with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, reports the site of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Today, Tuesday, March 28 has also been declared a national day of mourning by President Vladimir Putin.
The tragedy in the Winter Cherry shopping center began at about 5:00 PM on Sunday. The blaze claimed the lives of 64 people, including 41 children, with another 44 injured and as many as 85 people are still missing, according to relatives. The search operation is still underway.
Pat. Kirill also offered a memorial service on Monday evening. His Holiness also expressed his condolences to Metropolitan Aristarkh of Kemerovo and to the families and friends of those killed and injured in the fire.
“With all my heart I empathize with the residents … I express my sincere condolences to those whom this terrible tragedy has touched, and I pray that merciful Lord would, in His ineffable mercy, send grace for the strengthening and comforting of the grieving, and grant a speedy recovery to the wounded,” the patriarch’s letter of condolences reads.
The primate also called on all clergy of the diocese “to provide the necessary pastoral assistance to the relatives of the victims.”
Met. Aristarkh also offered prayers for the reposed yesterday in their local diocese. He was concelebrated by several area clergy. His Eminence read out the condolences to the people from Pat. Kirill and noted that he had received words of sympathy from many hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church.
President Vladimir Putin also offered his condolences to the family and friends of the victims, and has begun visiting the injured who are recovering in hospitals. Arriving in Kemerovo yesterday, he immediately went to the site of the burn-out shopping center, laying flowers at the spontaneously-arising memorial to the victims, according to the official site of the president.
He then went to the regional emergency hospital to meet with victims, in particular visiting 18-year-old Ivan Zavarzin who jumped from the fourth floor of the mall to escape the fire. The young man stated that many did not take the alarms seriously for a while, thinking it was emergency training.
He also met with Andrei Sergeiev, Alexander Kalachev, and Nikolai Lobikov who helped evacuate people from the shopping center in the first minutes of the fire.