Moscow, Sep 14 (): Thirty-seven people have been killed after a fire swept through the wooden Oksochi psychiatric hospital in north-west Russia on Friday.
This fire accident is the second deadly blaze at such a facility this year and the incident has heightened concerns about Russia’s treatment of the mentally ill and other vulnerable wards of the state.
The Emergency Situations Ministry said the fire accident happened in the one-storey hospital in the village of Luka, about 450 kilometres (280 miles) north-west of Moscow at around 3 am. Friday and quickly engulfed the structure.
Officials said the fire was started by a patient. The investigative committee said according to preliminary information, one of the patients set fire to himself and his bed.
Ilya Denisov, a representative of the emergencies ministry, said fire fighters were fast to react but by the time they arrived, the fire had consumed the entire building. The primary task of the fire fighters was not the evacuation of people, but fire suppression. The fire left little but the concrete foundation of the single-storey building standing.
The regional branch of the Investigative Committee said 37 people were killed in the blaze, while a representative of the Emergencies Ministry said 15 bodies had been recovered and the fate of 22 missing people was unclear.
Ministry official Oleg Voronov said there were about 60 people in the building, most of them patients, when the blaze broke out. He said more than 20 patients were evacuated.
President Vladimir Putin has sent condolence messages to the relatives of the victims of the tragedy and instructed regional authorities to provide all necessary aid to the survivors.
In April, a deadly fire at a psychiatric hospital outside Moscow killed 38 people. Russia has a poor fire safety record with about 12,000 fire deaths reported in 2012. By comparison, the U.S., with a population approximately double that of Russia’s, recorded around 3,000 fire deaths in 2011.