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30 bodies found at mental hospital fire site, fate of 7 unknown

September 13, 2013, 14:45 UTC+3
Fifty nine patients and one nurse were in the building when the fire broke out
1 pages in this article
Photo ITAR-TASS/Russia's EMERCOM Press Service

Photo ITAR-TASS/Russia's EMERCOM Press Service

MOSCOW, September 13 (Itar-Tass) - The fire in a mental hospital in the Novgorod Region supposedly killed 37 people.

A 46-year-old nurse who rescued patients also died in the fire, a source at the Russian Investigative Committee's regional department said.

The bodies of 30 people have been recovered. The fate of 7 is unknown.

Fifty nine patients and one nurse were in the building when the fire broke out. Twenty three people were evacuated.

Supposedly the blaze was caused by carelessness of one of the patients.

Twenty investigators are working at the site, conducting examinations, taking documents from the hospital administration and questioning witnesses. Acting chief of the regional department of the Investigative Committee heads the team of experts.

The search is continuing on the ruins; around 400 people take part in relief efforts.

150-year-old wooden building

The hospital occupied old wooden buildings. Construction of new buildings began in 2011 in accordance with the regional program "Active Long Life" for the elderly. The hospital was planned to be transferred to the new buildings after the reconstruction in 2015.

The building of the mental hospital Oksochi, which has burned up, was 150 years old. The fire spread fast in the dilapidated building, causing many deaths, chief of the Russian Emergencies Ministry's supervising department, Yuri Deshevykh, told Itar-Tass.

It was a 150-year-old wooden building with a low class of fire-resistance. The blaze spread quickly, though all the fire-prevention systems worked, the official noted.

The building burned up completely.

Firefighters came timely

The first crew of firefighters arrived at the site in three minutes after the call. Together with the medical staff, they evacuated 23 people.

 There is no information that firefighters were called late, he said.

 Only one nurse was in the building for 59 patients. Shortage of personnel is a problem of such hospitals, the official noted.

Work to clear the debris was continuing and it could not be said that the others who were missing were dead, the official said. Checks were being made to establish whether they had been present at the time as patients had been free to move around.

Criminal case opened

A criminal case has been opened over death caused by negligence. Twenty investigators are working at the site, conducting examinations, taking documents from the hospital's administration and questioning witnesses. The acting chief of the regional investigations department is heading the group of experts.

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