MOSCOW -- Russian rescue workers pumped warm air into the ruins of an indoor water park yesterday, vainly hoping that the heat would help victims survive freezing temperatures a day after a roof collapse killed at least 25 people and injured more than 100.
As many as 17 people remain missing, presumably buried under debris of the Transvaal Park on Moscow's southwestern outskirts, officials said.
Rescuers shoveled snow from the tangled mass of steel and concrete, some standing atop a large stone that appeared to be part of a mock tropical scene.
They also brought in generators and search dogs, which cut their paws on broken glass while sniffing through debris.
Periodically, searchers called for silence to listen for signs of life. They heard none, however, and by last night they had called off the search and stopped heating the rubble, said Viktor Starostin, spokesman for the Moscow branch of the Emergency Situations Ministry.
Initial reports said an explosion caused Saturday night's collapse, but Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and other officials said there was no evidence of a blast. The city has been on edge since a deadly Feb. 6 subway bombing that President Vladimir Putin laid to Chechen rebels.
The collapse left a hole the size of a football field in the glass-and-concrete roof. Yesterday, cranes lifted heavy chunks of concrete, metal beams, and giant buckets of broken building materials.
Investigators said the disaster may have been caused by a heavy buildup of snow, the stresses caused by the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures, or water seepage into the roof's concrete supports.
Moscow prosecutor Anatoly Zuyev said faulty construction or maintenance probably was to blame. Prosecutors were opening a criminal investigation into possible negligence, he said.
Investigators were questioning managers of the park, its architects, engineers, and builders, and were planning to talk to witnesses, Zuyev said. Pieces of the wreckage will be tested, he said.
The state body in charge of construction, Gosstroi, suspended the licenses of the Turkish company that built the park, Kocak Insaat, and the Russian architectural firm that designed it, the Interfax news agency reported.
Estimates of the death toll varied. Luzhkov said late yesterday that 24 bodies were pulled from the rubble and one person had died in a hospital.
Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu said 17 people were believed missing, a figure apparently based on belongings left unclaimed at the swimming pool area. Asked if there was a chance any could have survived, Luzhkov said, "Unfortunately, no."
Mourners left dozens of carnations on a brick wall beyond the police line outside the building, and a single candle burned next to the growing pile of flowers.
Of 111 people injured, 78 remained hospitalized last evening, five of them in critical condition, Luzhkov said. There were 27 children among those hospitalized.
A child's birthday party was being held in the pool area when the roof collapsed, said Moscow police spokesman Kirill Mazurin.
Altogether, there were about 800 people in the water park complex.