Fire Rips Through Moscow Dormitory
36 Students Killed, Nearly 200 Injured
MOSCOW (Nov. 24) - An early-morning fire Monday raced through a Moscow dormitory packed with students from Africa, Asia and Latin America, killing at least 36 people and injuring nearly 200 - many of them forced to jump from the five-story building because the exits were blocked.
The fire quickly engulfed most of the dilapidated building housing students of the Patrice Lumumba Friendship of Peoples University, an institution that in the 1960s and 70s symbolized the Soviet Union's commitment to the Third World but deteriorated in the 1990s.
The building, which housed 272 students, served as a quarantine facility for newly arrived foreign students needing medical checks before starting their studies.
''It was like a horrible nightmare,'' said Abdallah Bong, a student from Chad looking at the gutted building. ''We saw them crying for help and jumping out of the windows, and we could do nothing to save them.''
Bong and other witnesses said fire engines were slow to start action as they jammed into a narrow access road blocked by parked cars, unable to stop the flames from gutting most of the dormitory above the ground floor.
The fire burned for more than three hours. Smoke poured from windows as a wet snow fell before dawn, and, after the fire was put out, the building's concrete walls were streaked with black soot. Nearby trees were caked with ice that had formed from water used to extinguish the blaze.
''A friend of mine who arrived just a few days ago broke his leg when he jumped out the window, and I don't know what happened to another friend,'' Nafafe Tengna, a third-year journalism student from Guinea, said as he waited for authorities to distribute a list of victims.
A preliminary investigation pointed to an electrical problem, Deputy Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev told President Vladimir Putin during a Cabinet session. Some bystanders said the fire could have been started by electric heaters.
Lubov Zhomova, a spokeswoman for the Moscow Health Directorate, said 36 people died and 197 others were injured - 57 of them in serious or grave condition. The Chinese foreign ministry said 34 Chinese students were among the injured.
Tengna said firefighters and emergency workers were slow to mount a rescue effort.
"People were jumping from the windows because it started on the second floor and there was no other way out. It was absolutely horrible."
''Students had to do it all themselves, holding mattresses for those who were jumping out,'' he said. Later, some half-naked victims suffered frostbite waiting for ambulances.
Fire department spokesman Yevgeny Bobylyov insisted the firefighters arrived on time and did their job well.
Rimma Maslova, the chief doctor at a nearby hospital where most of the injured were being treated, said that many suffered fractures and one had a grave spinal injury.
Students said the dead and injured included citizens of China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Tahiti, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Angola, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Kazakhstan, the Dominican Republic, Lebanon, Peru and Malaysia.
In an apparent attempt to fend off criticism, Education Minister Vladimir Filippov insisted the building was equipped with all necessary fire safety features. Filippov said there could have been arson and claimed that police had detained an African student who lived in the room where the fire started, the Interfax news agency reported.
But Pavel Klimovsky, a Moscow police spokesman, said investigators were just talking to students about the fire and said no one had been detained.
The university, named for a Congolese anti-colonial leader and prime minister who was assassinated, was founded in 1960 by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to offer a strict Marxist curriculum to students from developing nations.
It served as a showcase of Soviet patronage of the Third World, receiving generous state subsidies, but declined after the 1991 Soviet collapse when government funding dried up.
During the 1990s, many in its mainly African student body complained of racism by Russians.
A 22-year-old student from Mauritius, who identified himself only by his first name, Vashish, said the university charges high prices for ''miserable'' lodging. He and other students said one of the dormitory's two stairways was permanently locked, making an emergency exit even more difficult.
With stipends shrinking to almost nothing, many foreign students sell goods from their countries to make money, and already cramped dormitories are often packed with bags and bundles.
Russia has a high rate of fire deaths, 18,000 a year. That is nearly five times the number in the United States, which has twice the population. Britain has one death per 100,000 people a year - compared to 12.5 per 100,000 in Russia.
Experts say fire fatalities have skyrocketed since the end of the Soviet Union in part because of lower public vigilance and a disregard for safety standards. Also, many older buildings have wood partitions between the floors that help fires spread rapidly.
11/24/03 04:24 EST
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11-24-2003, 03:17 PM #1
36 Students Killed, Nearly 200 InjuredI dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
11-24-2003, 03:27 PM #2
The "Iron Curtain" has lifted, but the window is pretty foggy!Tengna said firefighters and emergency workers were slow to mount a rescue effort.Bong and other witnesses said fire engines were slow to start action as they jammed into a narrow access road blocked by parked cars, unable to stop the flames from gutting most of the dormitory above the ground floorFire department spokesman Yevgeny Bobylyov insisted the firefighters arrived on time and did their job well.In an apparent attempt to fend off criticism, Education Minister Vladimir Filippov insisted the building was equipped with all necessary fire safety features.I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
11-25-2003, 11:17 PM #3
- Join Date
- Nov 2003
- A firehouse in Illinois
thats a shame that so many got killed.
its good that America is coming along with fire prevention and sprinklers for dorms at the US colleges.
11-26-2003, 12:11 AM #4
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- Sep 2003
- New York
Hey Stm4710, I'm not doubting the fact that obviously Russian fire prevention needs some work. But last time I checked it was NOT a Communist country anymore.. Think your going a little over board here with the needles and nurses... But the real thing is that it is so sad that all those people had to tragically die because of ignorance.
11-26-2003, 10:02 AM #5But last time I checked it was NOT a Communist country anymore.. Think your going a little over board here with the needles and nurses...
And while Russia is a democracy and trying tremendously to change there are still many many hardcore commie hold overs,especially in the higher ranks of the military and other beurocracys. Just cause a frog bounces of it's *** when it jumps dont make it a pogo stick.I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
12-01-2003, 07:08 PM #6
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- Nov 2003
- baltamore md usa
you rock dude
your right so right i agree ok i do agree so one more thing whats your name ONLY TO KNOW OK O..........k ok rock on
12-01-2003, 10:21 PM #7your right so right i agree ok i do agree so one more thing whats your name ONLY TO KNOW OK O..........k ok rock onI dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
12-01-2003, 10:42 PM #8
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- Sep 2003
- New York
OK.. I'll give ya that one Stm4710, I forgot about the sinking of the Kursk and the cover ups. I would like to think there has been some change since that happened 4 years ago but I guess I would be nieve to think that.. Lets hope some changes occur from this incident anyways...oh welll.
AND......what the hell is Ferrin talking about? is he deffending me or making fun of you , or just rambling incoherently
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