Blaze kills several at Czech home for mentally disabled | News | DW | 19.01.2020
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Blaze kills several at Czech home for mentally disabled

At least eight people died and dozens were injured in the fire in a small Czech town near the German border. Emergency teams could not deploy a rescue helicopter due to bad weather in the mountainous region.

A fire early on Sunday at an asylum for the mentally ill in the Czech Republic has left eight people dead, officials said.

The blaze in the northwestern town of Vejprty broke out before 5 a.m. local time (0400 UTC), Prokop Volenik, spokesman for the regional rescue service, said.

Some three dozen people were injured, several of them seriously, a spokesman for the emergency services told the German news agency DPA.

A fire official was cited by the tabloid Blesk as saying that most of the victims did not suffer burns but suffocated due to the fumes.

Help from across border

The paper said the victims were all patients of the facility.

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Emergency teams declared the blaze a major incident and deployed seven ambulances, including two from Germany.

The town of Vejprty sits on the border with Germany in the region's Ore Mountains.

A rescue helicopter could not take off due to bad weather conditions in the mountainous region.

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Firefighter spokesman Michal Zavoral said the blaze was quickly contained.

'Terrible tragedy'

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis visited the scene on Sunday morning and spoke on Twitter of a "terrible tragedy."

Interior Minister Jan Hamacek said that "the causes of the tragic fire in Vejprty are being properly investigated."

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The survivors of the accident are to be given temporary accommodation in other homes.

Czech newspaper Denik N reported that the home provides care to people aged 18-64 who struggle with basic living needs.

It said the fire was the second most tragic in the country since 1990. The worst was the October 2010 blaze in Prague that killed nine homeless people. 

mm/rc (AFP, AP, dpa)

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