More than 18,000 died in Russian fires in 2004
MOSCOW (AP) - More than 18,000 people died in fires in Russia
last year, the Emergency Situations Ministry said Monday.
A total of 18,377 people, including 701 children, died in some
231,000 fires last year, about 4.7 percent fewer deaths than in
2003, the ministry said in a statement.
More than 13,600 people were injured, 2.7 percent fewer than the
previous year, it said.
The majority of fires - 72.4 percent - took place in residential
apartments or houses, and most of those were caused by the careless
handling of inflammable materials or electrical equipment, the
statement said. The number of arson fires grew by 6.4 percent,
compared to 2003.
Russia's annual number of fire deaths is nearly five times that
of the United States, which has twice the population.
Experts say fire fatalities have skyrocketed since the Soviet
Union collapsed in 1991, in part because of lower public vigilance
and a disregard for safety standards.

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