Fire kills dozens at Kazakh hospital

A fire at a drug treatment hospital near Almaty, Kazakhstan, killed it least 38 people on Saturday, authorities have said.

Ten more people have been hospitalised, two of them in critical condition.

The blaze started at approximately 05.30 local time (23.30 UTC) in Taldykorgan. The fire spread quickly, consuming almost 650 square metres of land.

“According to tentative data, 38 people were killed, of which 36 were patients and two were medical personel,” the national emergency situation ministry stated. The ministry says that emergency crews managed to rescue up to forty people and medical personnel from the burning building.

Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Bozhko said that the inhabitants of the building may have been hampered in their escape by locked doors and barred windows.

There was apparently no fire alarm on the premises, and firefighters had not been alerted to the fire quickly enough to contain it.

In a statement on the Internet, Kazakh prime minister Karim Masimov called for a commission to investigate the cause of the fire: “The country’s prime minister has entrusted the commission with carefully investigating the cause of this tragedy, and taking exhaustive measures to render assistance to the victims.”

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