MOSCOW, May 7 (RIA Novosti) – Last week’s fire in Odessa, which left at least 46 people dead, was prepared in advance and toxic substances may have been brought to the building on the eve of the tragedy, Odessa protest leader Valery Kaurov said Wednesday.
“This [arson] is pure provocation. A crowd of fascists pushed activists into this building, and when fire hoses were unfurled, there was no water in them, meaning that it was all planned and prepared beforehand. So it is possible that those who planned it brought containers with chemical substances in advance and left it there,” he said.
The clashes in Odessa broke out last Friday between pro-federalization activists on one side and fans of the Odessa and Kharkiv football teams on the other, joined by Euromaidan activists.
Pro-Kiev radicals joined by Right Sector militia blocked the anti-government protesters in the House of Trade Unions and set the building on fire by hurling Molotov cocktails inside. Those trapped inside had little chance of extinguishing the blaze, as fire hoses in the building were out of order.
Although the nearest fire department is only 700 meters away, the first fire crews arrived at the scene after it was already too late.
A paramedic among the first responders later said the attackers had stopped ambulance teams from reaching the survivors who managed to flee the deadly blaze.
At least 46 people died, three went missing and 214 were injured, according to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry. The interim government in Kiev has been accused by Odessa officials of covering up the actual death toll of at least 116.
No plausible explanation has been offered for the fact that many of those who died did not try to take refuge on upper floors or the roof.
Although officials said most of the victims died of smoke inhalation or were killed when jumping out of windows, media rumors suggest that many of the dead had gunshot wounds or were poisoned by an unknown toxic chemical.
Lawmaker Volodymyr Kurennoy of the UDAR party wrote on his Facebook page Wednesday that the head of the Ukrainian Security Service allegedly told lawmakers during Tuesday’s parliamentary session behind closed doors that “containers with a particularly dangerous substance” were found at the building.
A survivor told the RT news network that smoke grenades were thrown into the building when it was already ablaze, although she was not sure whether they contained any toxic chemicals.