Fifteen people have been killed and 11 injured in a fire at a nursing home in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, Ukraine's state emergency services have said.
“Fifteen bodies were found on the spot,” the emergency services said in a statement. “Nine people were rescued and taken to hospitals.”
Ukraine's Prosecutor General Irina Venediktova said authorities had launched a criminal investigation, that the preliminary cause of the tragedy was “careless handling of electric heaters” and announced the launch of a criminal investigation into the breach of firefighting rules.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and called on the security forces to find the culprits “as soon as possible”.
The fire broke out in the afternoon on the second floor of the two-storey building. There were 33 people inside the building at the time of the tragedy.
The service published a photo showing the building with railings on the windows of the first floor, dense smoke coming out of the broken windows of the second floor.
Deadly fires are not uncommon in Ukraine, where safety regulations are not considered certain and many infrastructures are outdated.
In December 2019, a fire killed 16 people and injured 30 others at a high school in Odessa, in the south of the country. The director had been arrested and was suspected of “criminal negligence”.
In August of the same year, 9 people lost their lives in a fire in a hotel in Odessa. In June, a psychiatric hospital burned down, also in Odessa, killing six people.