23 Russian soldiers killed in military barracks collapse

A military barracks building in Russia collapsed last night, killing 23 soldiers and wounding 19, according to state news agency Itar-Tass.

The incident took place in the early hours of the morning in the village of Svetliy, near the Siberian city of Omsk, when a section of a four storey building, housing Russian airborne troopers (VDV) collapsed into rubble. The collapse occurred after the daily curfew and affected parts of the outer wall and the roof.

A rescue operation ensued immediately with early estimates that 20 servicemen had been killed, however as the operation neared its final stages this morning the Ministry of Defence confirmed that 42 had been caught in the rubble, 23 of them dying as a result. 337 soldiers were in the building when the section collapsed.

Defence minister Sergey Shoygu has ordered an investigation into the reason behind the collapse as well as tests across military buildings in the Omsk region. Russian President Vladimir Putin has requested that Shoygu updates him on the situation and, according to the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, has voiced his condolences to the dead soldiers' families.

The building is part of a much larger military complex at Svetliy, with Tass reporting that buildings in the complex were renovated recently. "According to one of the versions, during the renovation mistakes could have been made which includes planning changes being made to the building," an anonymous source from law enforcement on site told the news agency.

According to a spokesman for Russia's Central Military Distric, which the Omsk facilities are part of, the majority of the soldiers who died in the building collapse were new conscripts who had joined the armed forces last autumn.

A Moscow architect, speaking to pro-Kremlin news channel Life News, said that the collapse could have been due to an error during construction.

The Russian military is undergoing a huge modernisation programme, bidding to increase the proportion of its military equipment classed as 'modern' to 70% by 2020, compared with 10% in 2010.

Last week a Russian MiG-29 crashed during a training flight, killing both pilots on board in the fifth such incident over the space of a month. Four other air force aircraft have crashed since the start of May in different parts of Russia with three of the crashes occurring within a single week.

At the time Russian military expert at the Royal United Services Institute Igor Sutyagin told Newsweek that this could be a sign of the Russian military "overstretching" itself in a bid to flex muscles and show capability during the Ukraine crisis.