4 Apr 2012

15 killed in warehouse fire

6:17 am on 4 April 2012

A fire at a market warehouse in Moscow has killed 15 people. According to the city fire department, they were migrant workers from former Soviet states.

The BBC reports the two-storey building was being used as living quarters for vendors at Kachalovsky market.

RIA Novosti news agency said the fire broke out at about 04.50 am on Monday and took three hours to be extinguished.

Officials suspect a small space heater started the blaze.

Emergency workers had to cut their way into the building as the living quarters had no direct access to the street.

Most of the dead were from the central Asian state of Tajikistan and the rest may have come from other countries in the region.

It was the second spectacular fire in Moscow on Monday. Earlier, flames raged for hours on top of a skyscraper under construction.

The BBC says large numbers of migrant workers are employed in Moscow, often without being issued official work permits. Many live in uncomfortable and often squalid conditions.