38 feared dead in Russian psychiatric hospital fire

A fire raged through a psychiatric hospital north of Moscow on Friday and 38 people were feared dead, Russian emergency officials and media reports said.

 There were believed to have been 41 people in the building when the fire broke out - 38 patients and three staff members - and three were evacuated, the Emergency Situations Ministry said. 

 It said emergency workers searching the hospital had found 12 bodies so far and that the fire had been extinguished. A Health Ministry official said 38 people were feared dead, state-run RIA news agency reported.

 There were bars on the windows of the single-storey building in Ramensky, 120 km (70 miles) north of Moscow, and some patients apparently died while trying frantically to make it to the main entrance to escape, but many others died in their beds, Itar-Tass cited an unnamed source as saying.

 Fires at state institutions in Russia such as hospitals, drug treatment centres and homes for the elderly or handicapped have caused numerous casualties in recent years and raised questions about safety measures and conditions.

 The Emergency Situations Ministry said the fire started on or under the roof of the hospital at about 2:20 a.m. (2220 GMT on Thursday), but did not give its cause.


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