3rd Ld Writethru: Rescue operation completed at Russian blast site

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MOSCOW, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- The search and rescue operation has been completed at the site of a residential gas explosion in Russia, which killed 39 people, the Russian Emergency Ministry said Thursday.

"We removed the last body, and we guarantee that there are no more dead people in the building. Therefore, the search and rescue operation ends and goes into the engineering and construction stage,"

First Deputy Emergency Minister Alexander Chupriyan said, according to a statement published at the ministry's website.

The gas explosion occurred Dec. 31 at a 10-storey residential building in the Russian city of Magnitogorsk in the Chelyabinsk region, 1,400 km east of Moscow.

The accident claimed the lives of 39 people, according to the latest data.

A total of 24 people were rescued from the debris of the collapsed building, with the use of special high-altitude technology, the ministry said.

Psychological service was provided to the victims and their relatives.

Russia's Investigative Committee said Tuesday that an investigative team is working around the clock trying to establish the causes of the accident, and that no trace of explosives had been found at the site of the explosion site.

Wednesday was declared a day of mourning in Chelyabinsk for those killed in the explosion. Enditem

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