Authorities in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv have declared January 22 a day of mourning for 15 people killed in a fire at a nursing home.
Nine people were rescued and were receiving treatment in hospital after the blaze tore through the facility located on the western outskirts of Ukraine's second-largest city, the State Emergency Service said on January 21, while Prosecutor-General Iryna Venedyktova said 11 people were injured.
Venedyktova said a criminal investigation had been launched and the preliminary cause of the tragedy was the "careless handling of electric heating devices.”
Ukraine's Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said investigators were questioning the manager of the facility, called Zolotoye Vremya (Golden Time), and three service personnel.
The emergency service said the fire broke out at around 3:00 p.m. on the second floor of the two-storey building while there were 33 people inside.
The fire was extinguished less than two hours after it broke out, and around 50 firefighters took part in the operation, it said.
The service published a photo of the building with bars on the windows of the first floor, while smoke is billowing out of broken windows of the second floor.
The facility was home to people aged between 25 and 90, according to Ukraine's Ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova.
Deadly fires are not uncommon in Ukraine, one of the poorest countries in Europe, where safety regulations are poorly enforced and ageing infrastructure is badly maintained.
In December 2019, a fire killed 16 people at a technical college in the Black Sea port city of Odesa.