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Moscow Fire Kills 17 Kyrgyz Migrant Workers

  • RFE/RL

People gather outside the site of the fire in northeast Moscow.

People gather outside the site of the fire in northeast Moscow.

Russia's emergency services said a fire broke out at a warehouse in Moscow, killing 17 migrant workers from Kyrgyzstan.

The blaze at a printing warehouse occurred early August 27 in the Russian capital’s northeast.

"While extinguishing the fire, it was established that the source of fire is on the fourth floor," Dmitry Shirlin, head of the Office for Fire and Rescue Forces of the Moscow Directorate of the Emergency Situations Ministry, told reporters.

"The rescuers found the room with no access from outside," Shirlin said. "The wall was broken through and inside the rescuers found 16 dead bodies."

Russia's Investigative Committee, which reports directly to President Vladimir Putin, said a criminal inquiry had been launched into the deaths of the victims of the fire.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin wrote on Twitter that "those guilty will be found and punished."

Abdygany Shakirov, a representative of the Kyrgyz diaspora in Russia, vowed help to families of the victims.

"We will provide all possible moral and material assistance. We will never leave our citizens in this difficult time," Shakirov said.

Ilya Denisov, who heads the Moscow branch of the emergency services, said the fire was caused by a faulty lamp on the first floor of warehouse, where many flammable liquids and paper products were stored. He said the fire rapidly spread through an elevator shaft to the room where those who died were working.

Denisov said firefighters found the charred bodies of 16 workers and sent four injured workers to hospital, where one later died.

"There is a woman crying, her daughter died, she was only 18," an unidentified witness told Rossia 24. "[They did not escape] because there was no emergency exit."

The Kyrgyz nationals who lost their lives in the fire were in Moscow legally, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said.

Many colleagues of the victims gathered at the site of the fire.

Lax fire-safety standards have often been blamed for such incidents in Russia. In January, 12 people died in a fire in a Moscow clothing factory.

Some 500,000 citizens from Kyrgyzstan, an impoverished, former Soviet republic, are working in Russia.

Based on reporting by TASS, AFP, and Reuters