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Russian Federation convulsed with grief as the funerals of children and teachers who died in the Kemerovo fire began in the industrial city in Siberia. Putin directly voiced widely expressed suspicions that those who authorized it must have been bribed.

Elsewhere in the mall, fire alarms stayed silent causing the blaze to catch some unaware without enough time to escape.

Russian Federation has rigorous fire safety rules and a system of regular inspections, but enforcement is undermined by endemic corruption which affects many aspects of life in the country of 144 million people. It burned through a movie multiplex and a children's play area, fire officials said. Four people have been detained in connection with the deadly fire, including a tenant of the mall.

"A lot of children died".

"Most of the staff ran away and left parents and their children to their fate", he said.

Meeting with a group of grieving locals, Putin said some 100 investigators were working at the scene. A search is under way for the security guard.

The authorities ordered to check the anti-fire system of all movie theaters of the region of Siberia, especially in the coal mining region of Kuzbass, where Kemerovo is located.

The building was converted into a shopping centre from a former confectionery factory in 2013. Police have denied the rumors.

Temperatures during the blaze reached 600 degrees Celsius and some of the bodies were so badly burned they would need to be identified through DNA testing, officials said.

At the demonstration, the city's mayor, Ilya Seredyuk, proposed to the crowd they nominate a group to tour the mortuary and the mall to see for themselves that the rumors of higher death counts were untrue, state news agency TASS reported. "The provision of the help, hotline work, control over the payment of the compensations and release of the bodies to the relatives are planned", Mamontov claimed.

Pope Francis says he is "deeply saddened" by the fire at a shopping mall in Russian Federation.

In an apparent attempt to deflect Putin's anger, Tuleyev blamed "the opposition" and "local busybodies" for fomenting the protest in Kemerovo.

The pope sent a telegram Monday offering condolences for the dead, "especially the many children who lost their lives", and he offered blessings to those who are helping the injured and searching for the missing. There were also chants of "Power must answer".