Semester abroad in Moscow? Think again, my dear, think again. The Moscow Times reports:
A fire roared through a management institute in southeast Moscow, killing at least seven people and injuring 36 others. More than 200 firemen and rescue workers, along with 55 fire trucks and two helicopters, were deployed to tackle the blaze, which erupted at 1:30 p.m. at the Moscow State Institute of State and Corporate Management, near the Pervomaiskaya metro station. Several people escaped the flames by jumping down onto rescue nets held by firefighters, while others climbed out of windows onto tree branches or down drainpipes, witnesses said. Yaroslav Modin, a 16-year-old student at a nearby institute, said he saw around 10 young people on the roof of the building running around desperately trying to find an escape route. Some of them jumped to the ground before firefighters arrived with safety nets, Modin said. “People were screaming loudly, and then some of them jumped,” Modin said. “I think some of them fell straight to the ground.” One young woman crashed into a tree while trying to leap from the building into a safety net, said Vlad Savra, a 15-year-old student from a nearby school that was evacuated when the fire broke out. All seven people who had died as of Tuesday evening succumbed to smoke inhalation, said Sergei Lyapin, spokesman for the Moscow branch of the Emergency Situations Ministry. Investigators were trying to trace the source of the fire. Emergency Situations Ministry official Yury Nenashev told reporters at the scene that authorities were not ruling out the possibility of arson. “I won’t present the results of the investigation so far, but it is already clear that the fire significantly blocked escape routes,” Nenashev said. More than 100 people were evacuated from the building during the blaze, which was brought under control by 3:30 p.m. Smoke still hung heavy in the air at 5 p.m., and firefighters were still dousing the smoking ruins.
Fires in state-run facilities such as orphanages have been common in Russia; fire codes are often ignored, and safety officials are often lax when it comes to enforcing regulations. A fire tore through a dormitory at People’s Friendship University in November 2003, claiming 44 lives. In February, a court found five university officials guilty of violating the fire code, and a city fire inspector was convicted of negligence. A blaze at a drug rehabilitation center in Moscow killed 46 women in December. A private institution, the Moscow State Institute of State and Corporate Management was founded in 1995, according to its web site.