MOSCOW: A fire in a Moscow printing plant killed 17 people on Saturday, officials said, and a representative of the Kyrgyz diaspora in Russia said all the dead were members of its community.
“The incident happened when people were changing shifts at the printing house. It is very hard for us,” Abdygany Shakirov, the Kyrgyz representative said.
Around 500,000 citizens of the impoverished former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan are working in Russia. The two countries belong to a Russian-dominated customs union. The Investigative Committee, which reports directly to President Vladimir Putin, said a criminal inquiry had been launched into the deaths of 16 of the victims of the blaze.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said in his Twitter feed that one more person died later in a hospital.
Ilya Denisov, an Emergencies Ministry official, told Rossiya-24 TV station a malfunctioning lamp caused the fire. Lax fire safety standards are often blamed for fatal workplace blazes in Russia. In January, 12 people died in a fire in a Moscow clothing factory.
“When the fire was being put out, a room that had been cut off by the flames was discovered,” TASS news agency quoted the regional branch of the emergency ministry’s press service as saying.
Emergency workers arrived at the scene to put out a blaze that had engulfed 200 square metres of a warehouse in an industrial zone in the Russian capital’s north.About three dozen migrant workers gathered outside the warehouse, some of whom wept as they awaited news of the people who had been in the building when the blaze broke out.
The fire was thought to have been caused by a broken lamp in a room containing large quantities of flammable liquids and paper products.