Mystery Gas Leak in Russia Hospitalizes 21 People, Including Children

Russian authorities are investigating the mysterious suspected poisoning of over 20 people in a village outside Moscow.

Law enforcement officials in Tambov region, south of the Russian capital, opened a case after 23 people felt ill in a possible gas poisoning. A total of 21 were hospitalized, nine of whom are children. All of the patients are from the village of Kalinichi—a small settlement with a large Gypsy community, state news agency Itar-Tass reported.

Local police suspect the poisoning may be due to the leak in a gas tank inappropriately dismantled while it was full of an unknown substance. Russia's high investigative body the Investigative Committee has take charge of the case.

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The perpetrator has not yet been fully identified but preliminary findings from the committee point the finger at a 42-year-old man who was working with power tools in the yard of his home. Initial reports indicated that someone nearby may have been preparing old gas tanks to be scrapped, when they cut through some valves haphazardly, releasing fumes that caused almost two dozen people to feel sick.

Neighbors exposed to the pungent scent felt suddenly ill and were the first ones to call an ambulance, the committee believes.

The fumes released have also not been identified by medics who are caring for the patients, but the regional dispatch service has suggested the gas released was likely sulfur dioxide, Tass reported.

Of those hurt, the 13 adults are not in grave condition and have been sent to Tambov Regional Hospital, while the nine children are being examined in the nearby children's regional hospital.

After receiving the call about the suspected leak before midnight on Tuesday, medics arrived on the scene and fire fighters also rushed to Kalinichi, creating a water curtain to halt any dangerous gas from spreading, Regional Emergency Services spokeswoman Svetlana Pogorilovskaya said.