At least 38 people have have been killed after a fire raged through a psychiatric hospital on the outskirts of Moscow, according to Russian officials and national media reports.
The hospital, situated in Ramensky [also Ramenskoye], housed as many as 41 people, including medical staff.
An initial report from the Russian Emergencies Ministries says a nurse led two patients to safety and that they were the only survivors.
The ministry added that emergency workers have found 36 bodies so far and that the fire, which broke out in the middle of the night, had been put out.
The state-run RIA Novosti news agency reports that a health ministry official has confirmed that 38 people are feared dead.
The agency added the fire may have been caused by an electrical short.
Reportedly, the fire started around 2:30 am [local time] in a wing reserved for special treatment patients. By the time emergency fire services arrived on the scene, the entire one-story building was engulfed in flames.
The fire burned an area of about 420 square meters.
From local media reports, these details have emerged:
Seven of the 36 bodies recovered at the scene show that they died from carbon carbon monoxide poisoning, others died from burns, Investigative Committee representative Irina Gumennaya told RIA Novosti.
Emergency workers found a further eight bodies by the psychiatric hospital’s exit suggesting that they died while trying to escape but were prevented by the effects of carbon monoxide, RIA reported.
Komsomolskaya Pravda reported that firefighters were delayed getting to the scene because of a closed river crossing, adding that the journey took an hour instead of the expected 20 minutes.
It’s been revealed that the most of the hospital’s windows had bars, to prevent people from escaping. Unfortunately, this also meant most of the inmates were unable to escape from the fire. Most of the bodies were found still in their beds.
“Some windows had bars, some did not,” doctor-in-chief of the facility, Murat Shahov told Life News. He added that two patients in the facility were unable to walk, the rest suffered severe psychological illnesses.
Patients in the hospital suffered from a range of serious conditions, including acute psychosis, alcoholics, schizophrenics, and one drug addict.
Internal media reports that Andrei Vorobyov, acting governor of the Moscow region, rushed to the scene once the fire was extinguished.
Russia’s Investigative Committee has now opened a criminal investigation into the fire and reports 36 people as dead, although that figure is contradicted by the 38 dead cited by the Emergency Ministry.
In a statement on the government website, President Vladimir Putin urged law enforcement agencies, the Russian Health Ministry, the acting governor of the region and other local officials to give survivors the help they need.
It’s been reported that fire inspectors made two visits to the hospital in 2012.
In their first visit, a number of fire safety violations were found. These were later fixed in time for the second inspection in August that same year.
“Primary inspections discovered routine violations: no lampshades on lamps, exit signs were not everywhere, difficult [to] reach fire water supply,” Yuri Deshevih from the Emergency Ministry told RIA.
“In August 2012, they had a re-inspection, all violations had been corrected,” he added.
Saturday, April 27, has been declared as a day of mourning for those killed in the fire.