The latest information from Moscow says at least 32 students were killed and 139 others injured last night as fire tore through a packed university dormitory in Russia.
The blaze engulfed most of a five-story building belonging to the Patrice Lumumba Friendship of Peoples University.
Flames roared through several rooms on the second, third and fourth floors of the complex, gutting most of the dormitory above the ground floor, and smoke poured from windows as snow fell in the pre-dawn darkness.
Some of the dormitory’s residents suffered broken limbs and head and neck injuries when they jumped from windows to escape the smoke and flames.
Many foreigners study at the university and the Interfax news agency said the dead and injured included citizens of China, Bangladesh, Vietnam and several African countries.
Police said 28 bodies were recovered inside the building, three were found outside and one person died in an ambulance. About 270 students lived in the dormitory.
Authorities believe the fire started in a second-story room where three Nigerian girls lived, and Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov said initial information suggested the cause may have been a short-circuit in that room.
The university, named after a Congolese anti-colonial leader and prime minister who was assassinated, was founded by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in 1960.
Once a showcase where students from Third World nations received subsidised education with a strict Marxist curriculum, it declined as the Soviet Union collapsed and its buildings became rundown.
With stipends for foreign students shrinking to almost nothing, many trade goods to make money, and dormitories - already cramped - are often packed with bags and bundles.
Russia has a high rate of fire deaths, 18,000 a year. That is nearly five times the number of fire deaths in the United States, which has twice the population.
The contrast is even starker with the United Kingdom, where there are 600 fire deaths a year, or one per 100,000 people - compared to 12.5 per 100,000 in Russia.
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