A fire in a Moscow printing plant reportedly killed 17 people on Saturday, officials said. A representative of the Kyrgyz diaspora in Russia said all the dead were members of its community.
“The incident happened when people were changing shifts at the printing house. It is very hard for us,” Abdygany Shakirov, the Kyrgyz representative told Reuters.
The Investigative Committee, which reports directly to President Vladimir Putin, said a criminal inquiry had been launched into the deaths of 16 of the victims of the blaze. Authorities have started a criminal investigation to see if fire safety regulations were followed.
Emergency services were able to rescue 12 people from the four-floor warehouse located in an industrial zone in Moscow’s north. In total, more than 30 people were present at the time of the fire.
The head of the Moscow branch of the emergency ministry, Ilya Denisov told Rossiya-24 TV station a malfunctioning lamp caused the fire.
Lax fire safety standards are often blamed for fatal workplace blazes in Russia. In January, 12 people died in a fire in a Moscow clothing factory.
Denisov said the fire was thought to have been caused by a broken lamp in a room containing large quantities of flammable liquids and paper products.
“The fire spread from the first floor through the elevator shaft to the room in which the people were killed,” Interfax quoted Denisov as saying.
Around 500,000 citizens of the impoverished former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan are working in Russia. The two countries belong to a Russian-dominated customs union. They often live in unspeakable conditions.