Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Dozens die in Russia hospital blaze

The wrecked Russian psychiatric hospital after the blaze wich killed dozens of people (AP/Russian Emergency Ministry)
Firefighters tackling the blaze at a psychiatric hospital in Russia's Novgorod region which killed dozens of people. (AP/Russian Emergency Ministry)

Thirty-seven people have died in a fire in a Russian psychiatric hospital.

The fire in the one-storey hospital in the village of Luka in the northwestern Novgorod region erupted around 3 am and quickly engulfed the structure, which dates back to the 19th century, the Emergency Situations Ministry said.

Officials said rescuers so far have recovered 10 bodies. They did not explain how they knew about the other deaths.

Authorities had long warned that the mostly wooden building was unsafe.

Officials had demanded the facility be closed but the hospital administration won permission to use it until next year.

The blaze is thought to have been caused by a patient who was smoking, and state Rossiya 24 television reported that a witness account confirmed that. It said that the man who triggered the fire was saved.

Russia has a poor fire safety record, with about 12,000 deaths reported in 2012. By comparison, the US, with a population roughly double Russia's, recorded around 3,000 fire deaths in 2011.

A similar fire at a psychiatric hospital near Moscow killed 38 people in April.

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