Fire at sawmill in Siberian village kills 11

Russian Emergencies Ministry members work at the site of a fire that broke out at a wooden building in the settlement of Prichulymsky in Tomsk region, Russia January 21, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 21 January 2020

Fire at sawmill in Siberian village kills 11

  • Ten victims were identified as Uzbek nationals and one as a Tajik
  • The fire broke out in a single-story wooden building rented by an unnamed Chinese company and used as a dormitory for the sawmill workers

Moscow: A fire at a sawmill in a village in Russia’s Siberia killed 11 people and injured two more on Tuesday morning, emergency officials said. One person remains unaccounted-for.

Ten victims were identified as Uzbek nationals and one as a Tajik.

The fire broke out in a single-story wooden building rented by an unnamed Chinese company and used as a dormitory for the sawmill workers. It was most likely sparked by a malfunctioning electric heater, local authorities said. Firefighters battled the blaze for more than two hours.

A total of 14 people — Uzbek, Tajik and Chinese nationals — lived in the building, in the Tomsk region. Two workers were able to get out but sustained injuries. The fate of the final occupant is unknown.

Russian police have opened a criminal probe.

Uzbek officials said they were working on identifying the bodies and transporting them back to Uzbekistan.

Earlier this month a fire at a greenhouse farm in a Moscow suburb killed eight migrant workers from Vietnam.


Japan to let off last healthy cruise travelers, isolate rest

Updated 21 February 2020

Japan to let off last healthy cruise travelers, isolate rest

  • The ship docked at a Yokohama port has the most COVID-19 cases outside of China, with 634 confirmed by late Thursday
  • Six government quarantine workers contracted the virus, raising questions about the protective measures used

TOKYO: Japan’s health minister said the last cruise ship passengers who tested negative for a new virus will leave the Diamond Princess on Friday after a much-criticized quarantine of the vessel ended.

The ship docked at a Yokohama port has the most COVID-19 cases outside of China, with 634 confirmed by late Thursday. Two former passengers have died.

Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told a news conference the mass disembarkation into Japan of passengers from the ship is set to end Friday, while dozens of foreign passengers are flying back to their home countries on flights chartered by their governments.

Most crew members and other passengers who have not completed their 14-day quarantines because they had more recent contact with infected people are staying on the ship for now, but they will be transported to a government facility to be quarantined in isolation.

Japan is discussing with the ship operator and home countries of foreign crew members over their future movements, he said.

Japan’s government has been questioned over its decision to keep people quarantined on the ship, given the tight quarters and the difficulty of isolating sick people from the healthy.

Six government quarantine workers contracted the virus, raising questions about the protective measures used.

The two fatalities, a man and woman who were both Japanese and in their 80s, were believed to have been infected before health checks and a Feb. 5 quarantine began on the ship, Health Ministry official Masami Sakoi said. It was not immediately known if they had any roommates on the ship.

The new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has sickened tens of thousands of people, mostly in central China’s Hubei province.

The US and other countries have put former Diamond Princess passengers in second quarantines.

Australia said two passengers tested positive after they returned home. Kato said Australia, like the US, brought home a mixture of passengers who tested negative and others who were not tested and had an unknown status, therefore it was difficult to know when or how they had contracted the virus.

Kato said passengers who returned home on the US and Australian flights did so before completing the Japanese quarantine process, and that Japan’s ongoing disembarkation of passengers is still adequate.