St Petersburg university building collapses ‘with people trapped under rubble’

A university building in St Petersburg, Russia, has partially collapsed, sparking fears that people could be trapped under rubble.

Three floors of the five-storey building reportedly came crashing down this evening, leaving debris scattered across the ground.

More than 20 people could be trapped, local reports say.

The disaster occurred at the city’s Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics (ITMO) University, while classes were under way.

Emergency crews were spotted descending on the scene.

More than 60 people were evacuated after the fifth to second floors of the building suddenly collapsed, according to Sputnik News.

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Dramatic pictures, taken at the scene, show a massive hole in the building’s roof. Others depict corridors covered in huge bits of debris.

A source told the news site a 150-square-metre area had collapsed.

Renovation work had been taking place at the building, in the city centre, before the incident, RT.com and other news sources reported.

Optional classes had also been under way. It is feared students and staff members, as well as workers, could be among those trapped.

One eyewitness, called Alice, described how the collapse sounded like "a thousand chairs" being "dropped at the same time".

She told dp.ru: "I personally did not hear the cries. The dust was on all floors and the visibility was zero… nothing was visible.

"The services arrived quickly."

Another witness said the collapse happened "from top to bottom", with debris from the fifth floor crashing through lower floors.

The emergency response is ongoing.

This story is developing.

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