Ukraine: fire in retirement home kills 15, investigation

Ukraine: fire in retirement home kills 15, investigation
Ukraine: fire in retirement home kills 15, investigation

UpdatedJanuary 21, 2021 at 4:47 PM

A retirement home caught fire in Kharkiv, in eastern Ukraine. For now, the death toll is 15. A police investigation has been opened.

More than 30 people were in the building at the time of the fire

AFP

A fire ravaged a retirement home in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine on Thursday, killing at least 15 people and injuring several and prompting judicial authorities to open an investigation for violating fire regulations.

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The fire broke out in the middle of the afternoon on the first floor of a facility in the country’s second city, a former Soviet republic suffering from a dilapidated health system.

“Fifteen bodies were discovered at the scene. Nine people were saved. Five of them were sent to hospitals, ”said the Emergency Situations Department.

Handling of electrical devices

On , Ukrainian Attorney General Iryna Venedyktova also reported 11 injuries.

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The fire was extinguished less than two hours after breaking out, the Emergency Situations Service said, indicating that 50 firefighters had taken part in the operation.

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The fire devastated an area of ​​100 m2, according to the Ministry of the Interior.

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The damaged single-story building is located in the western suburbs of Kharkiv, according to an AFP correspondent there.

Faint smoke was still billowing from the building in the late afternoon, as two fire trucks were parked next door. “

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The preliminary cause of the fire is (the) reckless handling of electrical devices,” said the attorney general, announcing the opening of an investigation for violation of fire rules.

President Volodymyr Zelensky told Telegram that a total of 33 people were in the building at the time of the incident. He expressed his condolences to the relatives of the victims while demanding the police to find the culprits “as soon as possible”.

Police investigation

Police have started questioning three workers at the facility, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said in a statement. Its owner could be arrested, he added. According to Ukrainian police, 29 residents lived in the establishment permanently.

According to a regional official, Yuri Chparagha, the retirement home had not been officially registered. Quoted by the site of public television Suspilne, he affirmed “not to understand” the statute of the establishment.

Deadly fires are not uncommon in Ukraine, where compliance with safety rules is poorly controlled and where many infrastructures are dilapidated.

Previous in Odessa

In December 2019, a fire killed 16 people and injured 30 others at a higher education institution in Odessa, in the south of the country.

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The principal had been arrested and charged with “criminal negligence”.

In August of the same year, a fire in a hotel in Odessa killed nine people. In June, it was a mental hospital that burned down, still in Odessa, killing six people.

In May 2016, 17 people were killed in the flames that destroyed a retirement home in the Kiev region.

(AFP)

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