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Czech Republic: Eight dead, dozens injured after fire at asylum for mentally ill

Prague, Czech Republic – Eight people have died after a fire broke out at an asylum for people suffering from mental disabilities in north-western Czech Republic.

Fire kills eight in Czech Republic asylum

According to local reports, the fire started around 5 am on Sunday morning in the asylum located in the town of Vejprty, near the border with Germany. At the time the fire swept through the care home, 35 patients and three staff members were inside the building.

All eight victims, who mostly died of smoke inhalation, are male patients of the institution, officials said. Vejprty mayor Jitka Gadunova added that 30 other people, including one police officer, had suffered injuries from the fire and been transported to nearby hospitals. One of them is said to be in critical condition.

Although the cause of Sunday’s fire remains unknown, Gadunova noted that patients of the institution had, in the past, attempted to set fire to the building.

Second deadliest fire in the past 30 years

Czech firefighters were able to contain the blaze early on Sunday with the help of German colleagues who came from the other side of the border.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis paid a visit to the site of the tragedy, located some 130 km northwest of Prague. “It’s a huge tragedy. I’m here to find out how the government can help and what to do to prevent such a tragedy in the future”.

Officials are now investigating the cause of the fire in the asylum, the second deadliest in the Czech Republic in the past thirty years. In 2010, nine people were killed after a fire broke out in an abandoned building in Prague used as a shelter by homeless people. In 1995, a hotel fire in Prague also killed eight people.

Main photo credit: David Cerny/Reuters

Headed by Kafkadesk's chief-editor Jules Eisenchteter, our Prague office gathers over half a dozen reporters, editors and contributors, as well as our social media team. It covers everything Czech and Slovak-related, and oversees operations from our other Central European desks in Krakow and Budapest.