Azerbaijan fire: 24 killed at drug rehab centre in Baku

Fire at a rehab centre in Baku Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The cause is thought to be an electrical fault in the wooden building

A fire has killed 24 people at a drug rehabilitation centre in Azerbaijan's capital Baku, officials say.

Television pictures showed flames leaping through barred windows of a single-storey wooden building.

The fire in a ward for bedridden patients was initially caused by an electrical fault in the building, a government statement said.

Thirty-one people were rescued during the incident, the General Prosecutor's office said.

Four people were taken to hospital, according to Azerbaijan's news agency APA.

The blaze, which broke out just before dawn, was fanned by strong winds. It took around three hours for fire fighters to extinguish it.

Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev visited the site of the fire, the Republican Narcological Centre, after it was extinguished, local media said.

The former Soviet nation has a chronic shortage of rehabilitation places for its 30,000 registered drug addicts.

Nearly 3,000 people applied for places at the centre in 2015 alone, and a new clinic with 250 places has recently been built.

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