17 dead in Azerbaijan as high-rise combusts in seconds
Published time: May 19, 2015 19:23
Seventeen people are dead and more than 60 injured, after an apartment block in Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku, went up in flames in just seconds. Officials blame cheap plastic panelling for the rapid escalation of the fire.
“We received an emergency call about the fire at 10:57 am. It was difficult for the fire vehicles to get right up to the building, as it was blocked and the fire spread to the top floors,” said deputy emergencies minister Etibar Mirzoev.
As the fire consumed the 16-story Soviet-era high-rise, which had been renovated in recent years, a traffic jam formed as onlookers gathered on the surrounding streets. Gas canisters kept by the building’s inhabitants began to explode. Eventually more than 40 fire vehicles and ambulances were called to the scene. Two helicopters circled the top floor, though officials say they were “ineffective.” Footage showed panicking residents begging the emergency staff to let them back inside the building, where their relatives remained trapped.