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At least eight dead in blaze at Czech home for the elderly

A firefighter climbs with a ladder into a home for people with learning disabilities in Vejprty village, Western Bohemia on January 19, 2020.

A firefighter climbs with a ladder into a home for people with learning disabilities in Vejprty village, Western Bohemia on January 19, 2020.   | Photo Credit: AFP

"I can confirm a tragic fire with eight dead and seven injured people," emergency services spokesman Prokop Volenik told AFP.

At least eight people died and thirty were injured after a fire at a home for people with learning disabilities in a western Czech town early on Sunday, rescuers said.

“A total of 38 people were affected by the fire, of them eight unfortunately died,” emergency services spokesman Prokop Volenik told AFP.

He said 30 people were taken to hospital — one in a critical condition, three with serious injuries and 26 with light or no injuries.

Czech media said the firehad been put out.

“The fire broke out in the boys’ section of a home for the mentally handicapped,” said Jitka Gavdunova, the Mayor of Vejprty, a small town on the German border some 100 km northwest of Prague.

Mr. Volenik said all of those affected were adults.

The broadsheet DNES daily quoted Ms. Gavdunova as saying the clients of the home had tried to set it on fire in the past, and that the home was understaffed.

People from the town tried to help when the fire broke out but eight clients suffocated. “The Deputy Mayor ran into the fire to help the clients and he paid for it. He’s now in hospital under observation,” said Ms. Gavdunova.

She told DNES the clients could walk around town freely, and that the home had fire sensors but only at the toilets used by the clients as smoking rooms.

“We should not be so benevolent with people whose mental age is six to twelve years,” said the mayor.

Police said on Twitter they were investigating the fire as criminal negligence.

Originally, rescuers said the fire had occurred at a nearby home for the elderly.

“It’s insane, we’re swamped with phone calls from the relatives of the pensioners,” Ms. Gavdunova told AFP.

Mr. Volenik said it was too early to talk about the causes of the blaze.

He added seven ambulance units including two German ones had been deployed.

Czech media said rescue helicopters were grounded by bad weather in the mountainous region

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 3:52:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/at-least-eight-dead-in-blaze-at-czech-home-for-the-elderly/article30599117.ece

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