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23 Feb, 2007 23:48

Deadliest blaze in Latvia’s history takes heavy toll

Deadliest blaze in Latvia’s history takes heavy toll

At least 25 people have been reported to be dead or missing and 1 fire fighter injured in what was called the deadliest blaze in Latvia’s history. Nevertheless, 66 residents were rescued.

Survivors were taken to local hospitals and other care homes. At least 5 of them received serious burns.

Rescue officials said, a fire at a care home in the Latvian city of Alsunga has turned out to be the deadliest blaze in the country's history.

The fire broke out after midnight when most of the residents were in bed.

The fire brigade arrived quickly at the scene, but their efforts were hampered by the freezing temperatures. Water even froze in the fire hoses.

Initial reports said 26 residents were either missing or dead, but workers of the State Fire and Rescue Service later found one person, who was seriously injured.

Rescue efforts were also made more difficult as many of the disabled patients were sedated.

Furthermore, during the rescue operation the roof collapsed down.

As for the possible reasons of the tragedy, the town's officials said the blaze may have been caused by a short circuit on the third floor of the building.

They added that the substandard wiring was probably overloaded by heaters due to the cold weather.

However, the Latvian Welfare Ministry inspected the home last year and found everything in order.

Therefore, authorities do not rule out other possible reasons of the fire.

With regard to this, the local prosecutor has launched an investigation into the accident.