At least 37 people were killed in a serious fire that broke out at a Russian psychiatric hospital on Friday, the top investigative agency in the province where the blaze occurred said.
The bodies of 10 of the 37 victims were recovered from the ruins of the building that burned down in a pre-dawn fire, the Novgorod regional branch of Russia’s Investigative Committee said In a statement.
The fire at a ward for severely ill patients was the second deadly blaze at a psychiatric hospital in Russia this year and is likely to prompt criticism of the state over its treatment of the mentally ill and other vulnerable citizens.
The news agency said that investigators and the chief doctor at the hospital “suspected a patient started the fire, Russian news agencies reported, but regional governor Sergei Mitin said it might have been accidental.” Reuters continues:
” ‘Medical personnel saw a patient who was shrouded in flames. … It’s possible that he was smoking in bed and the mattress caught fire,’ Mitin said, according to Interfax. He said the ward that caught fire housed severely ill patients.