Oleg Voronov said there were reportedly 59 people in the facility in the village of Luka, when the fire broke out at around 3:00 a.m. local time on Friday. He said 22 of them were evacuated with the help of rescuers.
“The rest of them walked out on their own, but 37 people are missing,” he said.
A source in the local Interior Ministry’s department said earlier that the fire completely destroyed the building and 15 people were missing, adding that “chances are that they are dead.”
This incident is another in a chain of fires at mental institutions across Russia this year despite efforts by authorities to bolster fire safety at hospitals specializing in the treatment of mental disorders.
The deadliest fire at a mental institution this year took place on April 2 after an early morning blaze in the town of Ramensky north of Moscow killed 38, including two nurses. Only three people survived the fire.
Two more separate fires took place in May at psychiatric hospitals in central Russia’s Tambov region and in southern Krasnodar Territory.
The deadly fire in the Ramensky clinic prompted President Vladimir Putin to call for a closer look at fire safety in hospitals across the country.