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Hotel fire in Ukraine kills 9, injures 10

By Sommer Brokaw
Hotel fire in Ukraine kills 9, injures 10
Firefighters put out the fire at the Tokyo Star hotel in Odessa, Ukraine Saturday. Photo courtesy of Odessa Police.

Aug. 17 (UPI) -- A fire broke out Saturday at the Tokyo Star hotel in Ukraine killing nine people and inuring 10, according to National Police.

State Emergency Service of Ukraine said it received a call at 1:34 a.m. about the hotel fire in Odessa, and it took about 3 hours for 65 firefighters to put out the fire, covering around 10,000 square feet.

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Many of an estimated 200 guests, according to the director of emergency response department Volodymur Demchuk, were asleep at the the time and could not find their clothes in the dark, so they wrapped themselves in towels and sheets, and ran out of the hotel while rescuers put out the fire.

Odessa police said it has launched criminal proceedings for violation of fire safety requirements established under the law.

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Hotel President Volodymyr Zelensky posted on Facebook that "we lost eight lives," which has since been updated to nine.

"Ten people were injured, four of them in critical condition. And it's not because of war and shelling." the Facebook post said. "And because of criminal negligence and ignoring the elementary norms of fire safety, because of the superficial attitude to human life."

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"This will end. Personally, I will ensure that the punishment complies with the law and the requirements of justice," Zelensky continued. "You cannot put your own income above human life. My sincere condolences to the relatives of the dead. Thanks to the rescuers and the police. Special thanks to the residents of Odessa who sheltered the rescued guests of this hotel."

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The two-story hotel in Odessa, a southern Black sea port city of 1 million people 295 miles south of Kyiv, is one of the cheapest hotels in the city, at $14 per night for a room without a window.

Tokyo Star hotel owner Vadym Cherny, who also owns another cheap hotel subject to scandal, Zirka, where prostitution reportedly flourishes, denied any accusations.

"There was a disaster," Cherny told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. "If there is any fault from our side, we will take full responsibility [for the fire], and I will be the first."

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