Death toll in retirement home fire in Russia rises to 31 - 2

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The death toll in a fire at a retirement home in the central Russian region of Tula on Sunday rose to 31 people as emergency workers cleared the site, the emergencies ministry said on Monday.
(Updates death toll in headline, lead, adds details throughout)

MOSCOW, November 5 (RIA Novosti) - The death toll in a fire at a retirement home in the central Russian region of Tula on Sunday rose to 31 people as emergency workers cleared the site, the emergencies ministry said on Monday.

A fire at the home for the elderly near Tula, 200 km (120 miles) south of Moscow, engulfed 1,700 sq m of home space and was extinguished in five hours' time. About 300 people, including medical personnel, were evacuated and placed in other nursing homes.

"The cause of the blaze is not known at the moment, but a short circuit is likely to blame," the regional prosecutor's office said adding prosecutors are investigating into possible violations of fire safety rules and the personnel's negligence.

The old, two-story building with wooden partitions appeared to have lacked a fire alarm system, investigators said.

Wednesday was declared a day of mourning in the region, the Tula administration said.

Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov ordered thorough investigation into the tragedy, and that victims be provided with everything they need.

It is the latest in a series of deadly blazes, which hit Russia recently, highlighting problems facing state-run institutions.

In a similar incident in June, at least 10 people were killed and four seriously injured in a fire at a retirement home in West Siberia.

Sixty-one retirees and medical personnel died in a fire at a retirement home in the Krasnodar region in southern Russia in March. Last December, 46 patients at a Moscow drug treatment clinic died in a fire. And at least nine students died and dozens were injured in a blaze at a Moscow dormitory last October.

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