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Dozens killed after fire at Russian psychiatric hospital

An early morning blaze has destroyed a psychiatric hospital in northwestern Russia, claiming dozens of lives. The fire was the second this year to break out at a mental health facility.

Some 37 people were killed Friday, officials said, as local authorities worked to extinguish the smoldering remains of a mental hospital in a provincial town roughly 350 kilometers (217 miles) north-northwest of Moscow morning.

The fire broke out at the facility in Luka shortly after 3 a.m. local time, quickly consuming the wooden structure, according to Russian officials.

The head of oversight at the emergencies ministry blamed the institution for failing to meet safety codes, adding that the building had not been fit for use.

"This building has a weak resistance to fire. It was made of wood. The administration had been told by the legal authorities to remedy numerous violations in fire security by August 1," Russian media quoted emergencies ministry oversight chief Yuri Deshovykh as saying.

The ministry said rescuers have recovered 26 bodies so far.

Russia's investigative committee suspected a patient had started the fire, though the circumstances remained unclear.

In April, a fire broke out at a hospital in Ramensky, southeast of Moscow, killing over 35 people.

kms/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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