A fire has claimed the lives of 13 children in an orphanage in the ex-Soviet republic of Tajikistan. The blaze spread rapidly through the building that housed mainly disabled youngsters – many of whom are unable to move by themselves. The tragedy happened in the capital Dushanbe.
Witnesses said it took a long time for help to come, although the orphanage is in the city centre. Officials said dozens of children were evacuated from the building and taken to safety elsewhere. The health minister of the Central Asian state denied earlier reports that 60 youngsters were injured but said they had suffered serious psychological trauma. One child is reportedly being treated in hospital. An investigation into the cause of the blaze is underway. Preliminary reports suggest the building, that dated back to the 1930s, had no central heating and that the numerous electric heaters used inside could have caused an overload.