Blaze kills 22 in Russian home for elderly

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A fire erupted overnight in a private illegal nursing home in the Siberian city of Kemerovo, killing 22 people, Russia’s investigative committee said on Saturday.

“A fire broke out overnight in a private property used as an illegal nursing home,” the investigative committee said on Telegram, adding that “the death toll has risen to 22.” An earlier statement said 20 people had died.

“Six more were injured, two of them were hos-pitalised and are in serious condition with burns” the Telegram statement added.

Many homes for the elderly operate without au-thorisation in Russia, officials said, meaning they were considered private property and not subject to inspections.

The fire spread over 180 square metres in a two-storey wooden building, the Russian state-run news agency TASS reported.

In a video released by the emergency services, a long row of emergency vehicles lined up outside the burning building, as firefighters tackled flames which sent plumes of smoke into the night sky.

Images released by emergency services showed the building later completely burned out.

A firefighter works to extinguish a fire in an un-registered home for the elderly in the Siberian city of Kemerovo, Russia on Dec 24 in this still image taken from video. — Russian Emergencies Minis-try/Handout via Reuters

“The preliminary cause of the fire was a violation of fire safety rules when operating a heating stove,” the Kuzbass regional administration said on its web-site.

Russia’s investigative committee, which inves-tigates major crimes, said it opened an investigation into causing death by negligence.

Kemerovo saw one of the deadliest fires in Rus-sia of recent times when a blaze swept through the upper floors of the “Winter Cherry” shopping centre in 2018, killing 64 people.—AFP