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A total of 110 people were registered as residents of the affected section of the building, regional authorities said.

A suspected gas explosion in the Russian city of Magnitogorsk early Monday morning ripped through an apartment building, killing at least three people and burying dozens after a partial collapse of the structure.

The emergencies ministry said on its web site that the section of the building could have collapsed due to a natural gas blast.

National television showed rescue workers combing through mangled heaps of concrete and metal in temperatures of minus 18 Celsius (minus 0.4 F). President Vladimir Putin arrived in the city to oversee the rescue efforts.

Magnitogorsk is located some 1,700 kilometers southeast of Moscow.

Four people were confirmed dead and another four, including two children, were hospitalised, officials said, citing the latest information.

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People immediately took to social media to post images of the sky across the city illuminated by an eerie blue-green light. Travellers at LaGuardia Airport, which is located in Queens, were treated to potential delays as well as a light show.

The explosion shattered windows of nearby buildings, according to a local resident speaking on Echo of Moscow radio.

The Soviet-era high-rise was built in 1973 and was home to around 1,100 people. Today is a public holiday before the New Year celebrations in Russian Federation.

In 2015, at least five people were killed when a gas explosion damaged an apartment building in the southern Russian city of Volgograd.

Dubrovsky said later that some apartments were leased and in general, 120 people, were housed in the collapsed part of the building.

Search and rescue teams are picking through the rubble of the partially-collapsed nine-storey building amid fears the death toll could grow.