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Nine die in Russian retirement home fire

By IANS/RIA Novosti,

Moscow : Nine people suffocated to death after a fire broke out at a retirement home in Central Russia’s Tver region Monday, a spokeswoman for the regional emergencies service said.

The fire brigade was called out at 5.05 a.m. Moscow time and the first firefighting unit arrived three minutes later.

“At 5.30 a.m. the fire was put out completely. According to preliminary information, nine people were killed, one injured woman remains in hospital in serious condition,” spokeswoman Yelena Smirnykh said.

A total of 480 people were rescued from the building.

The cause of the deadly fire is being established.

A series of deadly blazes in care homes hit Russia in the past years, highlighting safety lapses in state-run institutions.

In February 2009, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered comprehensive checks in all Russian retirement homes to uncover possible safety violations and to look into general living conditions after 23 people, most of them elderly people, died in a fire that destroyed a wooden care home in the Republic of Komi in northwest Russia.

In a similar incident in June 2007, at least 10 people were killed and four seriously injured in a fire at a retirement home in West Siberia.

The deadliest incident took place in the Krasnodar region in southern Russia in March 2007, where 63 pensioners and medical staff died in a fire at a retirement home.