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17 dead in fire at unlicensed nursing home in Ukraine

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KIEV, Ukraine — Seventeen people died after a fire broke out Sunday morning at an illegally-run home for the elderly near Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, officials said.

Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Gennady Zubko has ordered an inspection of all residential homes for the aged in the wake of the tragedy, the government said in a statement.

Eighteen people were rescued from the two-story building, with five of them hospitalized with burns.

The owner of the facility in Litichki village, about 45 kilometers (28 miles) northeast of central Kiev, has been detained, Kiev regional police said in a statement.

Police have opened an investigation against him for fire safety violations. If found guilty, he could face three to eight years in prison, police said.

The blaze was reported at 3.48 a.m. Sunday local time, Ukraine’s State Emergency Service said.

More than 150 rescuers were involved in the operation, eventually putting out the fire nearly five hours after the emergency call.

Images from the scene showed the exterior of the building badly burned, and the interior gutted by the blaze.

The owner of the unlicensed nursing home was charging residents UAH 6,000 ($239) a month for a place in the facility, police said.

In a Facebook post, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko expressed his sympathies for the victims’ families and said he had ordered the local governor to provide all necessary assistance to those affected.

Prime Minister Vladimir Groisman also expressed his condolences and ordered the creation of a government commission to investigate the cause of the blaze.

The members of the commission will be chosen at an extraordinary government meeting to be held Monday in response to the tragedy.

“On behalf of the government, please accept my sincere condolences for this terrible tragedy that has caused irreparable loss,” Groisman said in a statement.

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