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All Major Moscow TV Knocked Off Air Sunday August 27, 2000 5:00 pm

MOSCOW (AP) - All major television stations in the Russian capital were knocked off the air Sunday by a fire at the massive Ostankino broadcasting tower.

The fire also forced the evacuation of visitors to the observation platform and restaurant that perch about two-thirds the way up the 1,771-foot tower, the world's second-tallest freestanding structure.

The fire broke out about 320 feet above the restaurant and platform and there were no immediate reports of injuries. The evacuation was completed about 90 minutes after the fire began about 3:30 p.m., Russian news agencies reported.

The fire initially knocked off three television channels, including the main independent station NTV. But the tower's fire-extinguishing system was unable to put out the fire and it spread, knocking out both state-run RTR and the ORT channel, in which the state owns a majority share.

Residents of other parts of the country reported they were receiving the channels as usual. Spokesmen for the channels could not immediately be reached for comment on whether backup equipment was available or on how long the outage might last.

The fire also burned up some transmission equipment used by police and medical services, news reports said, but the extent of that damage was not immediately known.

Initial reports said the fire appeared to be caused by a short-circuit in wiring used by a paging company at about 1,520 feet above ground.

At that point, the tower's spire is extremely narrow and firefighters were reportedly having difficulty maneuvering in the cramped quarters. The firefighters also were hampered by having to climb the full distance to the fire because the tower's elevators were switched off.

Also cut by the fire were the broadcasts of the channels TV-6, Kultura and TV-Tsentr, as well as the FM service of radio station Ekho Moskvi. Two smaller channels received only in some parts of the city were reportedly still on the air.

The Ostankino tower, which looms over northern Moscow, was erected in 1967 and is a popular tourist attraction.,3561,380954,00.html

-- Martin Thompson (, August 27, 2000


Russian TV knocked out as fire rages through 1,800ft tower

By Barry Renfrew in Moscow

28 August 2000

Fire spread yesterday through the 1,771ft Ostankino television tower in Moscow, knocking out most TV channels and sending a plume of smoke over the city.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known but initial reports said it apparently was started by a short-circuit in equipment belonging to a paging company. The futuristic tower, the tallest free- standing structure in Europe, is a popular tourist attraction, with an observation deck and restaurant two-thirds up its height. The fire started well above that level and officials said all visitors were evacuated. But five hours after the fire broke out at 3.30pm (11.30 GMT), the fire had spread to the platform as well as further up the spire.

The fire started 1,520ft above ground and firemen had problems fighting the blaze because of the difficulty of hauling equipment, including chemical fire extinguishers, to that height. The tower's spire is narrow at that point and the cramped quarters hampered movement.

Scores of fire engines and ambulances were parked at the bottom of the tower, which was lit by at least three searchlights, as officials tried to figure out a way to fight the blaze.

Yellow flames licked from the glassed-in platform as darkness fell on the city. Thousands of people thronged to the base of the tower, gathering in a carnival atmosphere  drinking beer, laughing and a few dancing to music from radios.

A huge helicopter capable of dropping water from a giant bag was brought to the scene but was not deployed.

The tower contains circuitry for law-enforcement agencies and emergency services, news reports said, but the extent of the damage was not immediately known. (AP 08/russian280800.shtml

-- Martin Thompson (, August 27, 2000.

Moscow takes precautions against tower crash Source: BBC Monitoring Newsfile Publication date: 2000-08-27

The head of the Moscow city fire service, Leonid Korotchik, said on Sunday that there was "no danger" of the Ostankino television tower falling but the city authorities were ordering petrol stations near the site to be drained as a precaution, the Russian news agency Interfax reported. "On the orders of the city internal affairs department, diesel and petrol are being pumped out of three petrol stations near the tower in case of unforeseen circumstances," the agency said.

The fire was still at the 230-metre mark, Interfax said at 2030 gmt, but there was no longer any open flame.

Firefighters were preparing to use new aerosol fire extinguishers, it added. story_id=13244918&ID=cnniw&scategory=Energy%3AOil

-- Martin Thompson (, August 27, 2000.

Nando Times

Hopes Fade for Four Trapped in Elevator

"It was the latest in a series of disasters, including gas explosions, industrial accidents and breakdowns in the power grid, that have underscored the weakened state of Russia's infrastructure due to lack of money and poor maintenance."

"A Moscow city surveyor on the scene, Vladimir Aleksin, said that the tower's upper spire had tilted slightly and that the tip of the structure was off-center by about two yards."

"Law enforcement agencies and emergency services also have circuitry in the tower, news reports said, but it wasn't clear whether that equipment was damaged."

-- Rachel Gibson (, August 28, 2000.

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