MOSCOW, September 13 (RIA Novosti) – At least six people are dead and 30 are missing after a fire that destroyed a psychiatric institution Friday morning outside the central Russian city of Veliky Novgorod, according to officials.
A criminal case has been opened into the reasons for the fire and searches and document seizures were already underway, according to a statement on Russia’s Investigative Committee’s website.
Six bodies had been found following the fire including one orderly employed at the institution, according to local security service source. The Emergency Services Ministry said earlier in a statement that 23 people had been saved, while the Health Ministry said that a total of 59 people that were in the building when the fire started.
The fate of the remaining 30 people is unknown, although police said that they were searching the local area for patients that could have escaped.
The fire took place in the village of Luka at the Oksochi psychoneurological institution – a type of facility common across Russian where elderly people unable to look after themselves, the mentally ill and the chronically institutionalized are held, usually until they die.
The incident is the latest in a series of fires at mental institutions across Russia this year, despite efforts by authorities to bolster fire safety at such closed institutions.
The deadliest fire at a mental institution this year took place on April 2 after an early morning blaze in the town of Ramensky north of Moscow killed 38. Only three people survived the fire and the tragedy prompted President Vladimir Putin to call for a closer look at fire safety in hospitals across the country.
Two more such fires took place in May at psychiatric institutions in central Russia’s Tambov region and in the south of Krasnodar Territory.
Recast throughout, and with updated casualty figures