Eight people with mental disabilities have been killed, and another three have been seriously injured after a fire broke out at a special care home in Vejprty near Ústí nad Labem in the Czech Republic.
The fire was reported to firefighters on Sunday morning, just before 5 a.m.
“The fire in the facility was reported to the operations center at 4:49 a.m.,” said one of the firefighters, adding that the team managed to get the fire under control fairly quickly.
The cause of the fire is not yet clear, said the mayor of Vejprty, Jitka Gavdunová, but a medical emergency was declared as casualties began to rise.
“Four people suffered moderate to severe injuries, one of them had to be connected to an artificial respirator. Another 26 people suffered minor injuries or were uninjured but taken to the hospital for precautionary medical examinations,” said Prokop Voleník, spokesman for the Ambulance Service of the Ústí nad Labem region.
Although the building was not damaged from the outside, the main issue was the smoke that caused casualties. Due to bad weather, the emergency helicopter could not take off to help medics with faster transport of injured people to the hospital.
“Among the dead and wounded is none of the employees of the facility. Among those slightly wounded is one policeman who inhaled smoke and went for a check-up,” added Voleník.
Patients at the special care home were escorted outside the building in breathing masks.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, Interior Minister Jan Hamáček and Social Affairs Minister Jana Maláčová sent their condolences to families and friends of the people who died. Babiš immediately headed to Vejprty to lend support to those affected by the disaster.
The fire in Vejprty is the second most tragic one since 1990. The most tragic one since 1990 was a fire in October 2010, which killed nine homeless people in Prague.