18 die as fire sweeps care home

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Fire swept through a rehabilitation home for the elderly and disabled in southern Italy today, killing at least 18 people.

At least nine others survived the blaze, which destroyed the home about two miles from Buccino near the town of San Gregorio Magno, off the coast of Salerno.

Many of the dead, including elderly people with physical and mental disabilities, were found in their beds and apparently suffocated, said Mr Nicola Parisi, mayor of Buccino.

One theory for the cause was that the fire was sparked by a shorted electrical circuit, he said.

The home, a prefabricated structure, was donated to Italy by France after a 1980 earthquake rocked the region.