Fire kills 28 pupils at school for deaf

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Flames swept through a two-storey school for deaf children in southern Russia early yesterday, killing 28 sleeping boarders between the ages of seven and 14.

Flames swept through a two-storey school for deaf children in southern Russia early yesterday, killing 28 sleeping boarders between the ages of seven and 14.

It was Russia's second fatal school blaze in less than a week, underscoring the hazards of traditional wooden school buildings, lax safety standards and ill-prepared emergency services that are seemingly the norm in many parts of the country.

Teachers raced through dormitories and had to rouse the hard of hearing children from their beds as flames engulfed the school in Mahachkala, in the Caspian Sea republic of Dagestan.

"The children couldn't hear the commotion," a Dagestani government spokeswoman told state television.

Some children were thrown from second-floor windows on to mattresses by frantic teachers, while the youngest were carried from the building by older students, Russian news agencies reported.

A total of 138 students survived the inferno, 29 of whom had to be treated in hospital for burns, carbon monoxide poisoning and other injuries.

Some Russian commentators suggested school staff might have added to the tragedy by failing to call for help while they tried to tackle the spreading flames themselves for almost 10 minutes after detecting smoke coming from a locked storeroom.

Dagestani authorities have declared today a republic-wide day of mourning.

On Monday of this week, 22 children died in a blaze that broke out in the cloakroom of a wooden schoolhouse in the village of Sydybal, in the Siberian republic of Yakutia.

The fire, which might have been caused by a woodstove used for heating, blocked the building's only exit, preventing pupils from escaping.

Mikhail Kasyanov, Russia's Prime Minister, has ordered emergency inspections of all the nation's schools.

Comments