At least 17 dead after blaze at home for the elderly in Ukraine

At least 17 people were killed when a fire broke out at a privately run home for the elderly outside the Ukrainian capital Kiev, authorities said Sunday.

Emergency services rescued 18 people from the building, five of whom were injured, two of them seriously, Ukrainian emergency services chief Nikolai Chechyotkin said, according to Russia's Tass news agency.

A total of 35 residents had been in the two-storey building. President Petro Poroshenko has expressed his condolences to the families of the victims.

The cause of the fire, which broke during the night and was extinguished by Sunday morning, was unknown. It is possible there was a problem with the electrics. Some 150 people assisted in the firefighting operation.

Images from the Civil Defence Department showed a burned-out building with blackened walls.

Chechyotkin said the authorities had not known there was a retirement home in the house in the town of Litochky, and said it was illegal, according to the Tass report.

It said that the owner of the home has been arrested for violating fire protection regulations. He faces up to eight years in prison if he is found guilty.

The Ukrainian government has set up an investigative commission and has pledged to check privately run old people's homes and close them down where necessary.

In 2011, 16 people died in a fire in an old people's home in the north-west of Ukraine.

Last update: Sun, 29/05/2016 - 17:55

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