A fire swept through a Czech asylum for the mentally ill on Sunday in the northwestern town of Vejprty, on the northwestern border with Germany.
The fire broke before 5 a.m. (04,00 GMT). It started in one room before spreading to three others. Eight male patients were killed, most of them by smoke inhalation. Dozens others were injured by the blaze and transported to nearby hospitals. One of them was in critical condition. Among the injured was a police officer. Seven ambulances were deployed to the scene. German rescuers came to help their Czech colleagues, who were not able to use rescue helicopters due to bad weather. There were 35 patients and three staff members at the home at the time of the fire. Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis visited the site and offered his condolences to the families of those who died.
Nothing was said yet about the cause of the fire. Firefighter spokesman Michal Zavoral said the blaze was contained and the cause was being investigated. It is also not known what action the asylum staff did when the fire broke. It was the second most deadly fire in the Czech Republic since 1990. Vejprty is located some 100km (60 miles) north-west of Prague.