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30 November 2023

Thirteen Dead In Kazakh Hostel Fire

On 30 November, a fire in a hostel in central Almaty, Kazakhstan killed 13 people, including nine Kazakh citizens and four foreigners.

Thirteen Dead In Kazakh Hostel Fire

Image: t.me/newsnurkz

(RFE/RL) A fire in a hostel in the center of Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city, has killed 13 people, the authorities said early on November 30.

Almaty Mayor Erbolat Dosaev said that among the dead were several foreigners, and Almaty police later clarified that nine of the victims were Kazakh citizens, while the other four were foreigners -- two Russian citizens, including one from the Far Eastern Sakha region, and two citizens of Uzbekistan.

Emergency services said there were 72 people, many of them foreigners, in the hostel, which occupies the ground floor and the basement of a three-story building, and 59 of them managed to get out.

The cause of the deaths was carbon-monoxide poisoning, officials said, adding that a commission has been set up to investigate the causes of the fire, which were not immediately clear.

Dosaev said that according to the regulations of the Health Ministry, placing guests in basements is prohibited. Basements can only be converted to accommodate storage or kitchens, the regulations say.

The Almaty Emergencies Department said that the hostel, which reportedly opened six weeks ago, had not received permission to operate. The hostel was equipped with a fire alarm that went off, but the building did not have mandatory fire extinguishers.

One of the people who was staying at the hostel, a Kazakh man from the southern region of Zhambyl, described the incident to Kazakhstan's news portal Tengrinews.

"When the fire started, the alarm went off, there was smoke all around. Everyone ran into the rooms to wake up the others. Everyone ran out into the street, but I couldn't see the actual fire. On the first floor there were seven rooms, each with seven people. Mostly Kazakhs lived there," the man said.

Almaty, a city of 1.8 million people, was Kazakhstan's capital until 1997 and it remains the Central Asian country's main trading and cultural center.