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'Sedated and trapped' patients die in hospital fire

A fire at a Russian psychiatric hospital has killed 38 people. Most of the victims were patients.

Some of the dead are thought to have been tranquillised. Bars on the windows may have prevented patients from climbing out to escape.

Fire engines took more than an hour to reach the blaze in the village of Ramensky, about 50 miles north of Moscow, which began early yesterday in a wooden annexe and spread to a main, single-storey building.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, ordered an investigation.

Investigators said they were examining whether it was caused by an electrical fault, an accident or an arson attack.

Only one nurse and two patients out of 41 people escaped and all the victims were dead before firemen arrived.

Television pictures showed charred pieces of timber among the smoking ruins.

Russia's Investigative Committee said that an initial inquiry showed the source was a sofa in a recreation room.

"Investigators have already questioned one of the patients who survived," the committee said.

"He explained that on the day before (the fire) a drug-addicted patient was moved into their wing and he was smoking constantly despite medical personnel prohibiting that." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent