38 Die In Mental Hospital: What Caused The Fire At Moscow Psychiatric Ward?

By Philip Ross on April 26, 2013 9:37 AM EDT

38 die in mental hospital
Thirty-eight people were killed at a mental hospital in Moscow when a fire swept through the building. Many of the victims were heavily sedated and in bed when the fire broke out. (Photo: Reuters/Tatyana Makeyeva)

Thirty-eight people were killed at a mental hospital in Moscow Friday morning after a fire broke out and swept through the building. AP reports that many of the patients had severe mental disorders and were sedated in their chambers when the flames hit.

The fire, which erupted early Friday morning, started in a wooden annex and then jumped to the one-story brick-and-wood building, which was quickly engulfed in flames. Many of the hospitals windows were barred, according to AP.

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According to local news source RIA Novosti, many of the 38 people killed in the mental hospital died from smoke inhalation, which is the number one cause of death from indoor fires. So far, 12 bodies have been found in the burned-down building, now just a skeleton of its former structure.

RIA Novosti reports that local authorities have yet to state the exact reason for the fire. Possible causes include a short-circuit, a failure to comply with fire safety regulations or arson.

Only three people survived the horrific event -- two patients and one medical nurse. The three survivors were questioned about the incident as part of the criminal investigation into the event that claimed dozens of lives.

Medical Daily points out that mental hospital disasters like the fire in Moscow have always caught the public's attention. A fire at the Seacliff Lunatic Asylum in New Zealand in 1942 killed 39 people, all female patients, who were trapped in a locked ward and couldn't get out. More recently, in the state of Georgia, investigators found that at least 115 patients had died under mysterious circumstances.

Read more from iScience Times:

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