Ten children killed in Estonian orphanage fire

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The orphanage was located in Haapsalu
Image: iijjccoo.

Ten children have died after a fire at a disabled orphanage in Haapsalu, Estonia. Forty six people, including thirty seven children, were in the wooden building at the time of the fire. One adult and another child were injured in the blaze. The fire started at 2.30pm local time and firefighters arrived shortly after.

Viktor Saaremets, a spokesman for the Western Estonia Rescue Services Center, released a statement saying "By the time rescue workers and firefighters arrived at the scene three or four minutes later the building was completely in flames." According to local media it took the firefighters two hours to put out the blaze.

The Estonian government has declared Monday a national day of mourning for the victims after an emergency meeting. President of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves said "The tragic accident in the Haapsalu orphanage shocked the whole of Estonia today."

The orphanage was opened in 1950 but moved to the current building in 1996 after funding from the Estonian government as well as foreign donors. The building was inspected in January and met all the necessary requirements according to Saaremets. The cause of the fire is still being investigated.