Nine die in fire at Belgian convalescent home

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Nine elderly people died and three more were seriously injured on Thursday in a fire at a convalescent home in Belgium, local mayor Dirk De Maeseneer and police said.

BRUSSELS - The victims, seven women and two men, were all residents of the Kanunnik Triest home in the Flemish town of Melle and died of smoke inhalation, according to an investigator.

The lives of the three injured people were in danger, a police source said.

Thirty more had been admitted to hospital although there were no details of their injuries.

Firefighters brought the fire was under control, said Melle's deputy mayor Dany Cottenie, quoted by the Belga news agency.

According to a nurse quoted by the online edition of the newspaper De Standaard, the fire was caused by a fan on the second floor of the modern building that housed around 90 elderly residents.

An investigator blamed the fire on a television exploding and setting a mattress alight.

"A nurse ran out into the street. She was shouting 'help, help,'" a 12-year-old girl, who was passing as smoke poured from the building, told the Flemish newspaper Manon Valcke.

"I went straight into the home and got some people out of their beds, I put them in a wheelchair and helped them to leave the building," the girl was quoted as saying by De Standaard.

By the time the emergency services arrived at the scene flames were leaping out of windows and it was too late to reach some of the victims. Two paramedics also had to be treated in hospital for smoke inhalation, added de Standaard.


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