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Death Toll from Russia Hydroelectric Plant Explosion Rises to 47


Russian authorities say the death toll from the accident at the country's largest hydroelectric power station has risen to 47.

Officials say they recovered 19 bodies at the Sayano-Shushenskaya power station in Khakassia since Thursday. That leaves 28 people still missing.

Authorities say the disaster occurred when an oil-filled transformer exploded Monday and flooded a machine room housing the plant's turbines. The cause of the blast is under investigation.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who visited the plant Friday, ordered payments of $31,650 (1 million rubles) to the families of those killed as well as those missing

A Web site frequently used by Chechen separatists says a group calling itself the Battalion of Martyrs claimed it planted explosives at the dam as part of what it called economic war against Russian authorities. But government investigators say they have found no traces of explosives there.

In another development, an Internet journalist who questioned the efficiency of management's response to the tragedy says prosecutors have charged him with slander against the firm operating the dam.

The journalist, Mikhail Afanasyev, told VOA Russian Service there were indications that some of the victims survived for a time in air pockets in the flooded room, but authorities did not manage to save them.


Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

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