8 die in blaze at illegal hostel in Latvia

29 April, 2021 12:00 AM printer

RIGA: Eight people died and nine were injured in a blaze that broke out in an illegal hostel early on Wednesday in central Riga, police and local authorities said, reports AFP.

“Eight people have died and nine were injured during the lethal fire in the hostel,” Latvia’s deputy police chief Andrejs Grishins told reporters in Riga.

DNA tests will be used to identify the victims, he added. “The bodies are burned so badly that we cannot tell yet which country they are from. Their documents have gone up in flames.

“Coroners and experts will try to establish their identities but lengthy DNA tests will be required,” Grishins said. “The hostel, located on the sixth floor on a state-owned building, was illegal,” Martins Stakis, mayor of Riga, tweeted after visiting the scene.

Residents living near the hostel quoted by local media said it had served people abusing drugs and alcohol.

Sandis Girgens, minister of interior affairs, confirmed that firefighters had been prevented from carrying out routine safety checks in the building since January.

“They had thick steel doors installed, and the hostel did not let our firefighting officers in,” Girgens told local media.

Authorities had decided to shut down the illegal hostel but the fire broke out before the decision was enforced.