MOSCOW (Reuters/AFP) - At least 23 soldiers were killed when a military barracks collapsed in Russia's Omsk region, Russian news agencies said on Monday.
A Defence Ministry statement said the concrete building which housed military personnel in the village of Svetly in southern central Russia had collapsed on Sunday, trapping people inside.
Interfax news agency quoted a ministry official, Mr Igor Konashenkov, as saying the death toll had reached 23 by Monday morning and 19 people had been taken to hospital.
The accident happened on Sunday evening in the village called Svetly near the city of Omsk, at a training facility for Russian paratroopers.
In footage shown on Russian television, soldiers formed a human chain to pass bricks and other debris from one to another in order to clear the mountain of rubble.
"Half of the heap has been cleared now," said acting commander of Russian paratroopers Nikolai Ignatov in remarks to Rossiya 24.
Teams of rescue workers, search dogs, and a plane with medical equipment from Moscow have been dispatched to the scene, along with military prosecutors. A representative of the regional military investigation offices told the Interfax news agency that a probe has been launched into possible negligence.
A Kremlin spokesman said that President Vladimir Putin had been informed of the accident. Omsk is about 2,200km east of Moscow.
A list of names of 15 victims published by Life News website showed male names with ages ranging from 18 to 24 years.
According to the Defence Ministry, the 242nd training centre where the accident occurred prepares junior specialists in the army, including drivers and mechanics for armoured infantry vehicles.