At least 23 people have died in a fire at a mental health clinic in the Voronezh region of western Russia, the emergency ministry says,BBC reports. At least 20 people are being treated in hospital, the ministry says.
The building was completely destroyed by the fire that began late on Saturday, reports say. The blaze is the latest in a series of deadly fires at Russian state institutions. The cause is being investigated. Anatoliy Sergiyenko, a nurse at the clinic, told Rossiya 24 TV that he had to leave the building because he had difficulty breathing.
“After this door was forced open a bit of fresh air came in and we evacuated some of the people,” he said. Many people have died in fires at state institutions across Russia over recent years. In September 2013, 37 people died in a fire that swept through a psychiatric hospital in the north-western Novgorod region.
Several months earlier, a blaze at another psychiatric hospital near Moscow killed 38 people. In 2009, 23 people died at an old people’s home in the north-west Komi region, while in 2007, 63 were killed at a home in Krasnodar, southern Russia. In 2006, a fire at a Moscow drug rehabilitation clinic killed 45 women.