Up to 37 psychiatric patients and nursing staff are feared dead following a blaze at a mental hospital in north-west Russia this morning.
The blaze occurred in the village of Luka, in Novgorod region. The hospital housed some 60 people.
The fire broke out just before 03:00 local time (23:00 GMT Thursday).
Investigators say the pre-dawn blaze may have been caused by a patient setting a bed on fire, the Interfax news agency reported.
The fire destroyed a building housing male patients at the hospital, state-run RIA reported. Voronov said there were about 60 people in the building, most of them patients, when it broke out.
It was the second deadly fire at a Russian psychiatric hospital this year.
Several fires at state institutions across Russia in recent years resulted in heavy loss of life.
In April, a fire at a hospital outside Moscow killed 38 people and prompted criticism of the state over care of mentally ill patients.
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.
There have been many fires with high death tolls at state institutions such as hospitals, schools, drug treatment centres and homes for the disabled in the past decade, raising questions about safety measures, conditions and escape routes.