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Explosion kills 9 in Ukraine

AN explosion and fire that tore through a gambling hall in eastern Ukraine yesterday killed nine people, the country's top emergency official said.

Emergency Situations Minister Volodymyr Shandra said 11 more were wounded in the explosion and ensuing fire at the hall on the ground floor of a five-story building in the city of Dnipropetrovsk.

A preliminary investigation showed a short circuit in one of the hall's many slot machines may have been to blame.

In televised remarks from Dnipropetrovsk, Shandra stressed that other explanations - including a bomb - had not been ruled out.

The deaths were caused by smoke inhalation, he said.

Because of the explosion, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko canceled a trip to Prague for a summit of former Soviet Union states, Russian news agencies reported.


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