Deadly fire breaks out at youth hostel in Latvian capital: police | Latvia News

At least eight people have died and nine others injured in a fire that broke out at an illegal hostel in Riga, police said.

At least eight people have died and nine have been injured in a fire that broke out at an illegal hostel in the Latvian capital Riga on Wednesday, police and local authorities said.

“Eight people died and nine were injured in the deadly fire in the hostel,” Latvian Deputy Police Chief Andrejs Grishins told reporters in the capital.

DNA tests will be used to identify the victims, he added.

“The bodies are so badly burned that we cannot yet say which country they are from. Their documents caught fire.

“Coroners and experts will try to establish their identity, but lengthy DNA tests will be necessary,” said Grishins.

Some 24 other people were evacuated from the blaze on the sixth floor after emergency services were called at 4:43 a.m. (1:43 a.m. GMT), according to a statement from the Fire and Rescue Service of the ‘State.

The BNS news agency reported that the police had opened a criminal investigation.

“ Illegal ” hostel

“The hostel, located on the sixth floor of a state-owned building, was illegal,” tweeted Martins Stakis, mayor of Riga, after visiting the premises.

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

Home Affairs Minister Sandis Girgens confirmed that firefighters have been prevented from carrying out routine security checks at the building since January.

“They had thick steel doors installed, and the hostel wouldn’t let our firefighters in,” Girgens told local media.

Authorities had decided to close the illegal hostel but the fire broke out before the decision could be enforced.

The mayor said the hostel is called Japanese Style Centrum. Photos of his premises on show tight beds in small attic rooms.

“The rooms looked like a shoebox,” Sofia from Spain wrote in a review on the website after staying at the hostel in February.

Another reviewer, by a Latvian called Viktorija who stayed there in March, said the room had no windows or ventilation, while others spoke of long-time residents living alongside visiting tourists.

“People are sleeping on the stairs,” wrote an anonymous reviewer from Australia in December. The hostel did not immediately respond to questions sent through the website’s request form.

Hotels and hostels in the scenic Baltic state have remained free to operate throughout the COVID pandemic, but the number of foreign visitors has fallen sharply. The country of 1.9 million people has reported 2,106 deaths from the virus, with daily cases rising recently but still well below the January peak.

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