Dozens feared dead in psychiatric hospital fire in Russia

Emergency response team working on the fire scene at a mental hospital in the village of Ramensky. There were reportedly 41 people in the hospital but three survived.(RIA Novosti / Andrey Stenin)

Emergency response team working on the fire scene at a mental hospital in the village of Ramensky. There were reportedly 41 people in the hospital but three survived.(RIA Novosti / Andrey Stenin)

 (RT) Up to 37 people are believed to have died after a fire engulfed a psychiatric hospital in Russia’s Novgorod Region. The firemen have managed to localize the fire that spread over 670 square meters of the building.

“According to refined data, there were about 60 people inside. More than 20 were evacuated by the facility’s administration. The fate of 37 remains unknown. But that does not mean that they are dead,” the head of Russia’s Emergencies Ministry Oleg Voronov told RIA Novosti. It is possible they got out themselves, he added.

According to preliminary information 59 people were inside the building when the blaze broke out at 22:52 GMT on Thursday. Twenty two people were evacuated with no injuries while over a dozen managed to get out themselves.

“Everything has collapsed inside as a result of the fire,” local police source told RIA. “The people believed to be inside are now most likely dead.”

Bodies of several of the victims have been recovered, RBK reports. The exact number of victims of fire is yet to be specified.

The local fire department units dispatched to the scene managed to localize the fire at around 00:25 GMT Friday.

It took 12 firemen and five units of machinery to extinguish the flames. The building which housed the men’s ward has been completely destroyed.

Firemen and police are still working at the scene clearing the debris. It is unknown what caused the tragedy. An investigation team has been dispatched from Novgorod. Rescuers from St. Petersburg have also been sent to the scene of the blaze.

Tragic blazes in medical facilities are not uncommon in Russia, with at least 19 cases in the past seven years.

In April this year 36 people were killed in a fire at a psychiatric hospital on the outskirts of Moscow. A nurse and two patients were the only survivors.

Among the other most notable ones was the tragedy that occurred in 2009 in the Russian Republic of Komi, where a blaze in an old people’s home in the region took the lives of 23 people. Only three people were saved in the incident.

Two years earlier, a fire in the city of Tula, again in a home for the elderly, resulted in 32 victims while 247 patients, including medical staff escaped.