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Asia-pacific

Dozens killed in blaze at drug rehab clinic

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-09-13

Thirty-eight people have been killed in a fire at a health clinic for drug addicts in the southeastern Kazakh city of Taldykorgan. Forty people were rescued from the blaze which broke out early Sunday morning.

AFP - Thirty-eight people were killed Sunday when fire ripped through a drugs treatment facility in a city outside Kazakhstan's largest city Almaty, emergency officials said.

There was no information on what caused the fire, which began at roughly 5:30 am (2330 GMT Saturday) in Taldykorgan city, or why dozens of people had apparently been unable to escape.

"According to tentative data, 38 people were killed in the burning inferno," the Kazakh Emergency Situations Ministry said in a statement.

Rescuers were able to save 40 patients and medical staff, it said, but firefighters were still trying to contain the blaze several hours after it broke out.

Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Masimov immediately called for the creation of a commission to investigate the cause of the fire, a government spokeswoman said, Russian news agency RIA-Novosti reported.

"Today the head of the government signed such a decree; the commission will be led by Vice Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov who, in the nearest future, will be flying from Astana to Taldykorgan," spokeswoman Ainagul Shakirova said.

Deadly fires are common in the former Soviet Union, with retirement homes and other state-run facilities particularly prone to such accidents.

In 2006, 45 women were killed when a fire erupted at a drugs treatment clinic in Moscow. The women had been trapped behind locked doors and barred windows during the inferno.
  

Date created : 2009-09-13