37 dead after fire in Russian psychiatric hospital
Three dead and more than 30 missing after yet another tragedy hits Russia’s state institutions
AT LEAST 37 people have died after a fire swept through a Russian psychiatric hospital in the latest in a long line of disasters at state institutions in Russia.
The blaze tore through the wooden hospital in the village of Luka in the north-west Novgorod region at around 3am local time. One of the victims was thought to be a nurse who was trying to save patients.
Reports suggest the fire may have been started by a patient who was either smoking or deliberately set fire to his bed, reports The Guardian.
The blaze has been extinguished but television footage shows the building reduced to a smouldering wreckage. The hospital housed 60 people, but fewer than half have been found alive.
Local governor Sergei Mitin told local media that the hospital was intended for patients with "grave psychological disorders", making the evacuation even more complicated.
Legal authorities had previously tried to close the Luka hospital over safety concerns, according to Russia’s emergency ministry, and the hospital administrators had been given a deadline of 1 August to fix numerous fire security violations. A criminal probe has been opened into suspected negligence.
It is not the first time a fire has started in a state institution, many of which still suffer from outdated Soviet-era infrastructure and lax security procedures, says AFP.
In April this year, a fire engulfed a wing of a psychiatric hospital in a village near Moscow, killing 38 people. In 2009, 23 people died after a fire in an old people's home in the north-west Komi region and, in a similar incident in 2007, 63 were killed at a home for vulnerable people in Krasnodar.
In 2006, a fire at a Moscow drug rehabilitation clinic killed 45 women, many of whom were trapped by metal bars on the windows. ·