Blaze at psychiatric hospital near Moscow leaves 38 dead

 

Moscow

A fire at a psychiatric hospital outside Moscow killed 38 people early this morning, many of them patients who burned to death while under heavy sedation.

It is the latest reminder of Russia’s appalling fire safety record, which has seen numerous incidents of mass fatalities in hospitals, nightclubs and dormitories in recent years.

The fire broke out around 1.30am at Psychiatric Clinic Number 14, in Ramenskiy, about 85 miles from Moscow. A 26-year-old patient who managed to escape the blaze told investigators that it began when one of the patients, a recovering drug addict, dropped a cigarette butt. Although smoking was forbidden at the institution the patient said the recovering drug addict frequently ignored the ban.

The collection of one-storey buildings, partly constructed of wood, quickly caught fire. Investigators have not confirmed the story about the smoker and are also looking into other potential causes including arson and an electrical fault. But they say they believe the initial source of the fire was a sofa in the common room.

A 40-year-old nurse who escaped the fire, saving one patient, said the flames had spread so quickly that she was not able to save others. Only three people who were in the hospital at the time managed to escape, while 36 patients and two staff perished.

The hospital housed patients described by a doctor as “a very tough group of people”, including those recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. Almost all of them were under heavy sedation and probably did not wake up as the flames spread.

Andrei Vorobyov, the acting governor of the Moscow region, said: “The alarm went off and a nurse began to react, but despite this only two other people were able to get out.”

He added that the nearest fire station was more than 40 miles away, across a river, and that the ferry service had been suspended due to flooding, meaning there was no way for the firefighters to reach the hospital. Yesterday Moscow authorities ordered safety checks on all schools and hospitals in the region.

Russia has a terrible fire safety record, and it is estimated that 12,000 people die in fires each year. In 2009 more than 100 people were killed when an indoor fireworks display set fire to a nightclub in the city of Perm. There was a dash for the doors but many were trapped inside and burned or asphyxiated by the rapidly spreading smoke. The same year, 23 people died at an old people’s home in the northern region of Komi, while in 2007 a blaze at a similar institution in Krasnodar killed 63.

Mr Vorobyov said the families of the victims would be paid compensation of 500,000 roubles (£10,000), while survivors would receive 150,000 roubles.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea