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MOSCOW, September 13 (Itar-Tass) - As many as 34 dead bodies have been found at the mental hospital fire site in Russia’s northwestern Novgorod Region, a spokesman for the Russian emergencies ministry's Novgorod region department told Itar-Tass on Friday.
“Thirty-four dead bodies were recovered from under the debris. The fate of three more people is still unknown,” he said.
Work continues to clear the debris, a senior emergencies ministry official, Yuri Deshevykh said, adding that if necessary, the operation would be continued into the night.
The fire is thought to have been caused by carelessness among the patients. Fifty-nine men and a nurse were in the building when fire broke out, in the village of Luka-Oksochi. Twenty-three people were evacuated.
The nurse who had rescued patients also died in the fire, a source at the Russian Investigative Committee's regional department said.
The hospital was housed in a 150-year-old wooden building. The building was very shabby so the fire spread very quickly, though all the fire-prevention systems worked, the official noted. The building burned up completely.
The emergencies ministry and the local prosecution agencies found the building unfit to accommodate the hospital and the court obliged its administration to close it from August 1, 2014. “But the fire did not wait that long,” Deshevykh said.
A criminal case was opened over the fire.