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Moscow launches probe into deadly blaze at Novgorod hospital

Moscow launches probe into deadly blaze at Novgorod hospital
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The Russian government has launched a state investigation into a fire that killed 37 people at a psychiatric hospital in Luka, Novgorod.

The authorities had warned that the building that went up in flames was unsafe – but the hospital won permission to keep using it until next year.

The Novgorod investigations committee said the fire was likely caused by the reckless behaviour of a patient.

Bogdan Gavalyuk, the head of emergency services for Novgorod region said: “When the fire-brigades arrived the blaze was raging. The primary task was not the evacuation of people, but fire suppression.”

Rescue workers have been scouring the wreckage for further bodies and also looking for surviving patients who may have wondered into the surrounding forest.

Alexander Timofeev explained how he helped some patients escape: “The windows of one room had railings over it”, he says. “I managed to break them with a crowbar, so they could get out.”