At least 16 workers from Kyrgyzstan have been killed after a fire broke out in a Moscow printing-plant warehouse. Investigators are looking into whether or not the fire broke out due to negligence or arson.
A fire broke out at a printing-plant warehouse in Moscow on Saturday morning, killing at least 17 workers who were trapped in the blaze, Russian authorities said.
Firefighters found 16 dead workers in a room which had been sealed off by the fire, said Ilya Denisov, the head of emergency services in Moscow.
Four injured workers were taken to the hospital, where one of the wounded later died.
All of those killed were migrant workers from Kyrgyzstan, one Kyrgyz representative confirmed. "The incident happened when people were changing shifts at the printing house. It is very hard for us," Abdygany Shakirov said.
Criminal probe opened
The fire was reportedly caused by a broken lamp on the first floor of the warehouse, which stored numerous paper products and flammable liquids.
The blaze then spread quickly up an elevator shaft to the room where the workers were killed.
Around three dozen migrant workers gathered outside the warehouse awaiting news on who had been in the building when the fire broke out, according to local media reports.
Moscow's mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, said the city would open a criminal investigation to determine if the blaze was started due to negligence or arson. "I am certain that those guilty will be found and punished," Sobyanin wrote on Twitter.
Subpar fire-safety standards have often been blamed for causing such fires in Russia.
rs/jm (AP, AFP, Reuters)