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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 December 2006, 00:04 GMT
Eight dead in Russia clinic blaze
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A fire at a mental hospital in Siberia has killed eight people less than a day after 45 people died in a fire at a Moscow clinic for drug addicts.

The latest incident occurred in the town of Taiga in the province of Kemerovo, Russian news agencies said without giving further details.

A third fire also broke out at a sanatorium in Tver, a province north of Moscow, but nobody was hurt.

One Russian media report says the Tver facility is for mentally ill children.

"The fire started in the psycho-neurological clinic in the town of Taiga," an emergency ministry spokesman said.

"Eight people were killed, six were injured as a result of the fire," according to preliminary details, he added.

The AFP news agency reported officials saying that the fire burnt its way through 1,200 sq m of the hospital roof (1,435 sq yds) and much of the second floor.

Some 235 people were in the building when the fire broke out, officials said, including about 15 staff.

Moscow safety fears

The Siberian fire was the second fatal blaze of a grim weekend for Russia's hospitals.

A body is removed from the scene of the fire
Fire safety officers had called for the Moscow hospital to close
A suspected arson attack on a Moscow drug treatment hospital killed 45 women on Friday night.

The fire was relatively small but those inside the hospital were unable to reach the exits or escape through barred windows.

Fears had previously been raised over safety in the Moscow hospital, but were not acted upon, officials said.

Fire safety officers visited the hospital in February and March and called for its temporary closure after their second visit, said Russia's chief fire inspector, Yuri Nenashev.

"Unfortunately this decision was not adopted," he added.

No escape

The fire, which broke out about 0140 (2240 GMT) in a kitchen, produced very heavy smoke, possibly from burning plastic wall coverings, reports said.

Judging by the placement of the bodies, they really tried to get out
Alexander Chupriyan
Deputy Emergencies Minister
"Everyone who died in this fire, was dead before the first fire engines arrived," said Deputy Emergencies Minister Alexander Chupriyan.

Mr Chupriyan said there was evidence of a desperate struggle by patients to escape: "Judging by the placement of the bodies, they really tried to get out." He added that crews had responded to an emergency call in just four minutes.

In daylight, relatives and friends of the dead women, who included patients infected with Aids/HIV, could be seen weeping outside the building on Bolotnikovskaya Street.

Others accused hospital staff of failing to act quickly enough to save patients' lives.

However there were suggestions that staff had been overcome so rapidly by smoke that they had been incapable of taking action.

Televised footage shows scorched, peeling corridor walls inside the building and beds and personal effects covered in black ash in a room which looked otherwise undamaged.

Russia records about 18,000 fire deaths a year, AP reports - 10 times more than in the US.

Last December seven people died in a fire at an institute for the mentally ill near Moscow.

And in 2003, 36 students died and some 170 were hurt at a hostel for foreign students.

In pictures: Moscow clinic fire
09 Dec 06 |  In Pictures
Russian blaze kills 11 builders
20 Apr 06 |  Europe
Country profile: Russia
03 Dec 06 |  Country profiles

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