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Thirteen Children Die In Institution Fire
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 10, 2006

DUSHANBE, TAJIKISTAN--Thirteen children with disabilities died Sunday when they were unable to escape a fire that broke out in the aging institution where they were housed, the Associated Press reported.

A public protection official said the fire likely started from electric heaters overloading the electrical system of the facility, which was built in 1934.

Neighbors said that they called the fire department when they first spotted the flames and started removing children from the building, which housed about 100 children with physical and mental disabilities. One neighbor said she called the fire department again a few minutes later to tell them to hurry.

Firefighters reportedly did not arrive on the scene until 30 minutes after the blaze was started.

A fire official said they had no record of calls from neighbors, but that firefighters from a station a half-mile away arrived within two minutes after they received a call from staff within the facility. Those staff apparently had tried to douse the flames themselves.

The AP noted that fires are common in older facilities across the former Soviet Union. Late last month, a fire in a Russian mental health facility claimed seven lives. In 2003, a fire in a Russian institution housing deaf children killed 28 students.

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