By BosNewsLife News Center
MOSCOW/BUDAPEST (BosNewsLife)– At least 37 people have been killed after a fire raged through part of a psychiatric hospital in northwestern Russia.
Russian firefighters desperately tried to extinguish the blaze at the psychiatric hospital in the village of Luka in the Novgorod region. Officials said the overnight fire erupted at around 3 a.m. local time Friday, September 13, and quickly engulfed the mostly wooden structure dating back to the 19th century.
The fire brigade arrived too late to prevent the total destruction of the one-story complex.
Authorities said there were about 60 people inside when the flames engulfed the facility, but only about 20 of them managed to escape. Some were apparently killed while under sedation as fog slowed firefighters travelling from 45 kilometers (28 miles) away.
Local media say initial investigations suggest the blaze at the hospital could have been started by a smoking patient, setting his bed on fire. However, it comes amid wider concerns about a lack of fire safety standards in Russia’s hospitals and other institutions such as orphanages and homes for the elderly.
The Emergency Situations Ministry had demanded the facility in Luka to be closed, but the hospital administration reportedly won permission to use it until next year.
This is not an isolated incident. In April another massive blaze hit a psychiatric hospital, just outside the capital Moscow, killing at least 38 people. Authorities pledged at the time to inspect all psychiatric hospitals in Russia. Yet, Friday’s fire has raised fresh doubts about the effectiveness of authorities.
Russia reported 12,000 fire-related deaths last year. That is four times more than the 3,000 deaths reported in the United States in 2011, where the population is roughly double that of Russia.
(BosNewsLife’s NEWS WATCH is a regular look at key general news developments from especially, but not limited to, (former) Communist countries and other autocratic states impacting the Church and/or other compassionate professionals).
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