At least 27 die in inferno at petrol station in Dagestan
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An explosion and fire at a petrol station in Dagestan, southern Russia, has killed at least 27 people.

A blast struck Makhachkala, the regional capital on the Caspian Sea coast, at 21:40 local time (18:40 GMT).

Hundreds of people were injured in the incident, but the exact cause is unknown.

Several fire engines were seen at the scene of a large fire that lit up the night sky.

The emergency ministry has deployed 260 emergency workers and dispatched an aircraft to evacuate the seriously injured to Moscow.

Three children were among the dead, according to Interfax.

According to the report, the fire had spread over an area of 600 square meters (6,460 square feet) and further explosions were possible.

Russian newspaper Izvestia quoted an unnamed witness as saying the fire started on a car lot opposite the petrol station.

A witness said, “After the explosion, everything fell on our heads. We couldn’t see anything.”.

According to the Investigative Committee of Russia, the fire broke out during some car maintenance work and was “followed by a bang”.

According to the Committee, a criminal case has been opened to determine the circumstances surrounding the incident.

It is the southernmost of the 83 constituent parts of the Russian Federation. Moscow is around 1,600 km away from Makhachkala.