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Czech Republic fire: Eight killed in blaze at home for disabled people

Samuel Osborne
Most of those who were killed died from smoke inhalation: Gabriel Kuchta/Getty Images

A fire has torn through a home for people with mental disabilities in the Czech Republic, killing eight male patients.

The blaze broke out in the home in the northwestern town of Vejprty before 5am on Sunday, according to Prokop Volenik, a spokesperson for the regional rescue service.

An additional 30 people were injured in the blaze and transported to nearby hospitals, Mr Volenik added.

Four people were seriously injured, Vejprty mayor Jitka Gadunova said. She went on to say those who were killed mostly died from smoke inhalation.

“It is, for our city, a great tragedy because clients of the home are part of our city,” she said, adding that there were fire detectors in the home but not in the area where the fire started, she said.

There were 35 patients and three staff members at the home at the time of the fire, officials said.

Fire brigade spokesperson Michal Zavoral said the blaze was contained and the cause was being investigated. German rescuers came to help their Czech colleagues, who were not able to use rescue helicopters due to bad weather.

Czech prime minister Andrej Babis visited the site and offered his condolences to the families of those who died.

“It’s a huge tragedy,” Mr Babis said. “I’m here to find out how the government can help and what to do to prevent such a tragedy in the future.”

It was the second deadliest blaze in the country’s three-decade post-communist history. In 2010, a fire in an abandoned building often used by homeless people in Prague killed nine people. A hotel fire in the capital in 1995 killed eight.

Additional reporting by agencies