Ten children killed as fire sweeps through orphanage
Ten disabled children died after a fire raced through an orphanage in western Estonia yesterday.
Most of the victims were wheelchair-bound and unable to escape the rapidly spreading fire. Victims were carried out through a window as thick smoke billowed from the roof. Other people inside were evacuated to a nearby building.
There were 37 children and nine adults in the wooden building when the fire started at 2.30pm in the coastal town of Haapsalu.
Viktor Saaremets, a spokesman for the Western Estonia Rescue Services Centre, said: "By the time rescue workers and firefighters arrived at the scene three or four minutes later the building was completely in flames." The cause of the fire was not immediately clear, though Mr Saaremets said fire safety inspectors visited the orphanage in January and found that the building met all the necessary criteria.
The Estonian government met for an emergency meeting after the blaze and has declared a nationwide day of mourning for today. President Toomas Hendrik Ilves expressed his condolences in a brief statement: "The tragic accident in the Haapsalu orphanage shocked the whole of Estonia today."
The orphanage admits disabled children and teenagers from all over Estonia. It was opened as a home for disabled children in 1950, when Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union. In 1996 it moved into the current building, which was funded by the Estonian government and Swedish, Finnish and American donors.
Lars Nexe, a Swedish philanthropist who led the project, said the construction material was shipped from Sweden and that the building met Swedish safety standards.
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This law firm is seeking a happy, helpful and ...
£26000 - £29000 per annum + Holidays & Pension: The Jenrick Group: Production ...
£33000 - £35000 per annum + Pension and holidays: The Jenrick Group: Project E...
£35200 per annum + Pension and holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Engine...