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Associated Press
Firemen and rescue workers seen near the restaurant building hit by gas explosion in Moscow, Monday, Jan. 9, 2012.

MOSCOW — A gas explosion and fire at a Moscow restaurant on Monday killed two people and injured at least 26, officials said.

The explosion occurred at about 3:30 p.m. in the kitchen of an Italian restaurant called Il Pittore. The fire, believed to have been set off by the explosion, spread quickly through the brick building.

Emergencies services official Ilya Denisov said two restaurant employees died and 15 people were evacuated by ambulance.

The federal Investigative Committee said in a statement that in addition to the two killed, 26 people were hurt.

Spokesmen for the city health department and the city emergency services, however, were quoted by state news agencies as saying that 39 people were injured and 32 of them hospitalized.