Death toll from fire at Russian defence institute rises to 11


MOSCOW: Rescuers have found five more bodies after a fire at a Russian defence research institute, bringing the total to 11 so far, Tass news agency cited a source in the emergency services as saying on Saturday.

The search for casualties is still going on, Tass said. The institute is in the city of Tver, about 160 km (100 miles) northwest of Moscow.

Authorities have opened a criminal investigation after media reports that an electrical fault caused the blaze.

On Friday, Russian television showed thick black smoke rising from inside the yellow four-storey building of the Central Research Institute of the Russian Air and Space Forces.

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Several of the institute’s employees had to jump out of windows on the upper floors to escape the flames, according to witnesses quoted by broadcasters.

Preliminary information suggests the fire was caused by faulty electric wiring, the TASS state news agency said.

Accidental fires are common in Russia, where hundreds of blazes are recorded each year due to ageing and dilapidated infrastructure and non-compliance with safety standards that are often lax.

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