38 killed in psychiatric unit fire
Published 26/04/2013 | 03:56
At least 38 people have died when a fire swept through a psychiatric hospital outside Moscow overnight.
Health Ministry officials said the single-storey hospital housed patients with severe mental disorders. Most of them were in bed when the blaze broke out.
Vadim Belovoshin, from the emergency situations ministry, told the Itar-Tass news agency that the windows in the hospital were barred but there were two fire escapes.
Officials from the Russian Investigative Committee said they are looking at poor fire regulations and an electrical short circuit as possible causes for the blaze in the Ramenskoye settlement.
By early this morning, investigators had confirmed 38 people - 36 patients and two doctors - as dead. Only one nurse and two patients managed to escape, according to the health ministry.
The emergency services also posted a list of the patients indicating they ranged in age from 20 to 76.
Mr Belovoshin also said it took firefighters an hour to get to the hospital following an emergency call because a local ferry across the canal was closed and the firefighters had to make a detour.
Moscow region governor Andrei Vorobyev told Russian state-television that the fire alarm seemed to have worked but the blaze spread too quickly. Mr Belovoshin said the fire first broke out in a wooden annex.
A spokeswoman for the Investigative Committee told Russian news agencies that most of the people died in their beds and did not even try to escape.
Deadly fires are common in Russia because of widespread violations of safety rules.