Fire at nursing home kills at least 10

UPDATED: 10:04, June 22, 2007

A blaze swept through a nursing home in Siberia yesterday, killing at least 10 people, officials said, the latest in a series of deadly fires in Russia, many of them caused by neglect of safety rules.

Rescuers safely evacuated more than 300 patients from the nursing home in the village of Yekaterininskoye in Western Siberia's Omsk region after the fire began early yesterday, but 10 patients died in the blaze, Emergency Situations Ministry spokesman Viktor Beltsov said.

Four people were hospitalized with burns and other injuries, the Omsk regional administration said in a statement.

Beltsov said the hospital fire alarm system functioned properly, but a nurse on duty was away at the time and failed to immediately alert patients and call firefighters.

"The delay resulted in fatalities," he said.

He said the fire began in the upper floor of the three-story nursing home and had apparently been caused by the violation of fire safety rules by patients, many of whom were drunk after a party.

Alexander Glazunov, a regional emergency official, suggested in televised comments that the fire may have started in a common area where people were watching television and smoking the night before.

A fire in a nursing in the Azov Sea coast village of Kamyshevatskaya in southern Russia killed 62 people in March. A night watchman ignored two fire alarms before reporting the blaze.

In Kamyshevatskaya it took firefighters almost an hour to get to the site from a larger town, but yesterday firefighters arrived at the nursing home just five minutes after receiving word of the fire, Beltsov said.

He said the nursing home had been checked twice recently by inspectors who found safety norms were duly observed. There were no violations, such as locked safety exits or barred windows, Beltsov said.

The regional authorities had spent over $770,000 over the last two years to renovate the nursing home building, which was considered one of the best in the region, the provincial administration said in a statement.

Source: China Daily/agencies

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