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Azerbaijan drug rehab centre fire claims 25 lives

BAKU: Twenty-five people perished in a fire which tore through a drug rehabilitation clinic in the Azerbaijani capital Baku early on Friday, with activists saying safety standards had not been met.
Footage broadcast on local television showed huge flames leaping through barred windows of a one-storey wooden hospital ward.
It took some three hours for 10 squads of fire-fighters and rescuers from the emergencies ministry to extinguish the blaze, the APA news agency reported.
President Ilham Aliyev, who went to the scene, has set up a governmental commission to probe the cause of the blaze and ordered financial aid to be allocated for the families of the victims, his office said.
“At 06:10am a fire broke out at the Republican Narcological Centre in Baku,” the general prosecutor’s office, the health, interior and emergencies ministries said in a joint statement.
“According to the latest data, 25 people died in the fire,” said the updated statement, which initially put the death toll at 24.
Four more people were hospitalised with serious burns, the statement said, citing a power grid defect as the initial cause of the blaze.
More than 200 patients and medical staff were evacuated unharmed, the statement added.
The general prosecutor’s office said it launched a criminal investigation into alleged violation of fire safety norms.
Russian President Vladimir Putin sent condolences to his Azerbaijani counterpart, according to the Kremlin’s website.
Civil activists blamed official corruption and the failure to respect safety regulations as the factor causing large numbers of casualties in increasingly frequent fires in Azerbaijan.

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