A fire has killed 17 people in a Moscow printing warehouse, the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations has confirmed. "Sixteen bodies were found in a room, four injured were brought to hospitals in Moscow," a ministry spokesman said.
Saturday's fire in the northeast of Russia's capital has renewed concerns over safety standards in the country and the plight of migrants. Rescue services rushed as smoke illuminated the skies over parts of Moscow. But they arrive too late to save many lives. The Russian Emergencies Ministry confirmed that as the fire was being extinguished, firefighters discovered a room cut off by a massive blaze in this printing plant's warehouse.
After breaking a wall into the room they found more than a dozen bodies. Those who died were all migrant workers from the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan. Ilya Denisov, who heads the Moscow branch of the emergency services, said the fire was almost certainly caused by a faulty lamp on the first floor of the warehouse. "Where the lamp was, there were a lot of flammable liquids and paper products. The fire immediately spread over the whole area and through the elevator shaft to the second floor," he told reporters.
Denisov added that "a lot of paper products and flammable liquids were also located near the elevator shaft and that the fire immediately spread there as well." Locked in changing room He recalled that at least sixteen people were in the changing room, which had only one exit. "Unfortunately they all died. They could not be saved."
However, the official added, that "during firefighting, we managed to save three people from the first floor and eight people from the 4th floor, on the opposite side of the building."
Several workers were later taken to hospital with burns, but at least one of them later died. The fire has raised new questions about the working conditions faced by impoverished migrants in Russia. Lax fire safety standards and corrupt officials refusing to enforce them have often been blamed for such incidents in the country.