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“According to preliminary reports, 38 people died, including two medical personnel,” spokesman Oleg Salagay was quoted by Ria novosti.
A police source said that most of the patients died in their sleep inhaling the fumes as they were likely sedated by prescribed medicine.
“Three people survived – a medical nurse lead two patients out of the burning building,” Salagay said, adding that a total of 41 people were believed to be in the one-story building at the time of the fire.
Regional emergency services said 12 bodies have been found so far in the building that almost completely burned down – the search has been hampered by heavy clouds of smoke around the site.
Investigators working at the scene of the fire, which started at about 02.00 am local time and was put out almost three hours later, consider several possible causes, including a short-circuit, violation of fire safety regulations and even arson.
A criminal case has been opened while the head of the clinic and the surviving nurses are being questioned in connection with the incident, Russia’s Investigative Committee said.
A local emergency services official said that firefighters arrived at the scene an hour after receiving a fire alarm notice.
“The nearest fire station is about 51 kilometres from the site. The firefighters could have arrived earlier if the fire occurred in summer, as there is a ferry across the river,” said Vadim Belovoshin, deputy emergencies chief for the Moscow region.
“Unfortunately, the ferry is currently closed,” the official said.
The Moscow Region authorities have marked April 27 as the day of mourning for the victims.