Hotspots and Incidents » Disasters, catastrophes

Fire in Moscow: 33 dead and 164 injured international students

The number of victims of the Moscow fire in Patrice Lumumba University of the Friendship of Peoples has reached 33 dead and 164 injured.

29 bodies were found inside of the dormitory building which was set afire, three bodies on the street and one man died in the ambulance car. Still 16 other people are in a very severe condition. The majority died from smoke and burn-products inhalation.


The investigation does not exclude arson, but the main version is electric appliances malfunction. Militia has already arrested a suspected female.
A five-storey building in which the fire took place was built in 1966.

A signal came too late
Students gave an emergency call at 2:50 am, after about 40 minutes of own tries to extinguish the fire. By that time the building faзade was set to open fire.


The extinguishers team found out that the fire was spreading from the 2nd and the 3rd levels, took the 4th and the 5th, and reigned over 1,000 square meters of the building. By 4:45 am the fire was localized and liquidated at 5:40. 28 brigades of the fire fighters and 50 medical units were at the spot.


Eyewitnesses report
The majority of victims lived on the 2nd and 3rd floors. People jumped from the windows, and suffered broken limbs and head and neck injuries.

"People jumped right out of the widows, because the fire had started from the second floor and there was no other way to get out. This was a horror", says Richard Mallobe, a sociology student from Liberia. "Everything happened very quickly. Some people already burning jumped out of the windows, we tried to bring them to ambulance…"

"I saw people in the fifth floor windows. They screamed something. I have never seen anything like that”, recalls a 24-years old philologist Silvio Fernandez.  

A 28-years old student Fransis from Cot-d’Ivuar has broken her leg, after a jump from the third floor. "It was the only chance to escape", she said to Reuters.

Vashish, 22 years old student from Mauritania, claims that the stair from the second floor was blocked. "In the dormitory there had to be only two people in each room, but everywhere were at leas three. The rooms and bathrooms are disgusting there, and everyone tried to move out as soon as possible"


Experts who investigate case found the fire source: according to the dormitory guard, who claims to have seen smoke getting from the room's door at 2:40 am, it was located in room 203. The guard turned on the alarm and called fire brigades. When he came back to the fire spot, the entire floor was burning, and escape ways for the floors above the second were blocked.


During the last few days, in this room, which is a part of so-called quarantine block (where newly coming students are being put first), three girls from Nigeria had lived. The university administration has been searching for the three African girls from room 203. "A few minutes before the fire they were seen running away from the building", said the Education Minister Vladimir Filippov.


Later on, militia did capture one of them, who may either know something about the cause of the fire or even be accused in arson. She was found in a nearby dormitory building.


Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov does not exclude household appliances to have caused the fire. He commented: "Six investigation groups are working on it. I can not name the cause now, as the fire extinguishers have not yet reported their findings to us. But the first data speaks for a household reason"


The reason is reported to be found in a few days only. A complex technical expertise requires time for experimental fire laboratory and criminal experts to work.

ps: for latest information on the topic see our NEWS section: http://newsfromrussia.com/accidents/2003/11/24/51449.html

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