Blaze kills dozens in Russian psychiatric hospital

April 26, 2013

A deadly blaze engulfs a Russian hospital, South Korea removes workers from joint industrial park, and survivors are pulled from rubble in Bangladesh as number of dead death toll rises. Today is Friday, April 26, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner.

A Russian emergency service worker sprays water at the site of a fire at a psychiatric hospital in the village of Ramensky, north of Moscow, April 26, 2013.  REUTERS/Tatyana Makeyeva

Psychiatric hospital fire rips through Russian village. Police officers said that 38 people were killed in a fire that quickly swept through a psychiatric hospital north of Moscow, fueling criticism from local villagers who say the tragedy highlights the state’s neglect of citizens who live outside of major cities:

The fire, which broke out at around 2 a.m. (2200 GMT on Thursday), swept through a single-story building at the hospital, a collection of wood and brick huts with bars on some windows that was home to people sectioned by Russian courts… Only three people escaped from the fire in the village of Ramensky 70 miles north of Moscow, prompting speculation the patients were heavily sedated or strapped down.

An investigating official said patients were not restrained, adding that blood will be tested to check for sedatives. Onlookers said firemen were not quick to arrive on the scene. More than 7,700 people were killed in fires in the first nine months of 2012, and there are high incidents of death on roads, railways, in the air, and in workplaces. Russian President Vladimir Putin said the cause of the blaze, the latest in a number of disasters at often ill-funded state institutions, will be investigated.

Korean park shuttered. South Korea announced today that it will remove all of its workers from Kaesong, the lucrative industrial park jointly run with North Korea, after the North refused an invitation to discuss resuming park operations::

The decision to remove about 170 people from the Kaesong factory park located just north of the armed border deepens a conflict between the two Koreas and puts at risk their last remaining channel of exchange that resulted from their breakthrough 2000 summit and a bid to improve ties… The North withdrew its 53,000 workers from the complex this month amid spiraling tension between the two Koreas. The North has prevented South Korean workers and supplies from getting into the zone since April 3.

Kaesong generates nearly $90 million for North Korea per year. South Korea believed its workers were running out of food and supplies when it proposed formal talks with the North on Thursday. North and South Korea are still technically at war, as the 1950-1953 conflict between the two ended in a truce.

Bangladesh death toll rises. Thousands of people angered by unsafe conditions in garment factories protested in Bangladesh, where rescuers continue to pull out workers from the rubble of an eight-story building that collapsed on Wednesday. Local officials said close to 300 people were killed in the collapse, and others fear the death toll could top 350:

Almost miraculously, 62 people trapped beneath the rubble since the eight-story building collapsed on the outskirts of the capital, Dhaka, on Wednesday were rescued alive overnight, police and government officials said. However, there were fears between 300 and 400 people were still inside. “Some people are still alive under the rubble and we are hoping to rescue them,” deputy fire services director Mizanur Rahman said.

Roughly 3,000 people, mostly female garment workers, were inside the building when it crumbled. Around half of the 2,300 people rescued so far were injured. Labor groups called for a garment-worker strike on Sunday, and many factories remain closed today as workers rally in the streets. The president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association said the proprietors of the five factories in the building ignored warnings that it was unsafe, and the building’s owner is currently on the run.

Nota bene: It is in open secret that Lebanon-based Hezbollah has joined the fight against Syria’s rebels.


Hog wild – Thousands of radioactive pigs are roaming free in Europe. (Modern Farmer)

Conversations with Putin – A televised Q&A gave the Russian leader a chance to flex his political muscle for nearly five hours. (The New York Times)

Dour note – Sir Winston Churchill’s stern mug will be the new face of the £5 bill. (The Guardian)

Talking to terrorists – Jessica Stern discusses what it’s like to interview jihadists, neo-Nazis, and lone-wolf killers. (Foreign Policy)

Technicolor algae –The world’s largest algae farm, shot from above in Western Australia, is surprisingly beautiful. (Time)

From the File:

  • Bombs kill eight at Friday prayers in Baghdad
  • Italian government could be settled on Saturday
  • Germans fascinated by Nazi era eight decades later
  • Death toll in Nigeria shootout with Islamist militants reaches 25
  • Egypt’s Pope says Islamist rulers neglect Copts


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