Odessa (Ukraine): Six people died when fire swept through a psychiatric hospital for war veterans in this Ukrainian city, authorities said Tuesday. The fire erupted late Monday evening in the one-storey building, Ukraine’s emergency services said in a statement.
“Six people died and four have been hospitalised,” the statement said. “Nine other people escaped unharmed. The condition of two among the four hospitalised is critical,” it added.
The facility provided mental health care for veterans of the Soviet Union’s 1980s war in Afghanistan and World War II.
Police and emergency services did not immediately comment on whether the fire had been started deliberately, but said it did not appear to have originated inside the building.
Paramedics continued to search the hospital after the fire had been extinguished, looking for any patients who could have been left behind, a journalist from this agency said. Bodies lay covered on the ground outside the brick building.
Fifty-seven firefighters on 12 fire engines fought to extinguish the blaze, emergency services reported.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he regretted the ‘terrible tragedy’ and ordered Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman to set up a committee to investigate. “The reasons (for the fire) will be established. I present my condolences to the families of the victims,” Zelensky said on Twitter.
Deadly fires are relatively frequent in Ukraine and other former Soviet republics due to outdated infrastructure and poor security measures.