38 feared dead in Russia hospital blaze
Moscow, April 26, 2013
A fire raged through a psychiatric hospital north of Moscow on Friday and 38 people were feared dead, Russian officials and media reports said.
There were believed to have been 41 people in the building when the fire broke out - 38 patients and three staff members - and three escaped, the Emergency Situations Ministry said. A ministry official said a nurse led two patients to safety.
The ministry said emergency workers had found 12 bodies so far and that the fire, which broke out in the middle of the night, had been extinguished.
A Health Ministry official confirmed that 38 people were feared dead, state-run RIA news agency reported.
There were bars on the windows of the single-storey building in Ramensky, 120 km (70 miles) north of Moscow, and some patients apparently died while trying frantically to make it to the main entrance to escape. Many others died in their beds, Itar-Tass cited an unnamed source as saying.
"After the fire alarm went off, a nurse ... saw fire at the end of a corridor. She tried to put it out but could not and led two patients out," RIA quoted emergency official Yuri Deshyovykh as saying.
Fires at state institutions in Russia such as hospitals, schools, drug treatment centres and homes for the elderly or handicapped have caused numerous casualties in recent years and raised questions about safety measures, conditions and escape routes.
More than 12,000 people died in fires in 2011 and more than 7,700 in the first nine months of 2012 in Russia, where the per capita death rate from fires is much higher than in Western nations including the United States.
The Emergency Situations Ministry said the fire started on or under the roof of the hospital at about 2:20 a.m. (2220 GMT on Thursday), but did not give its cause.-Reuters