The death toll in fire that broke out last week at the Economics College in the Black Sea port city of Odesa has increased to 16. The State Emergency Service reportedly said on December 12 that the bodies were extracted from the debris overnight. The college building was reportedly completed in 1914 and has landmark status. A fire inspection of the building that was conducted back in June 2014 also found gross violations with orders to correct them. The reports further indicated that the college was not equipped with smoke or fire detectors.
"As of 6:45 a.m. [04:45 GMT] on December 12, the last of those who were considered missing were taken out from under the rubble. Sixteen people have fallen victim to the fire. Of those, two died in the hospital, another 14 were found at the scene of the tragedy," the police press service said in a statement.
Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk has reportedly said that each family that lost someone in the fire will be receiving the equivalent of $8,500. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has also instructed the Odesa authorities to do everything to help those affected by the fire. Zelenskyy further has also ordered to quickly find out how the tragedy occurred. According to international media reports, the fire broke out on the third floor of the six-story education block of the Odesa's Economics, Law and Hospitality College on the morning of December 4. the block reportedly housed 19 different organisations and establishments and the area of the fire covered 4,000 square meters.
Criminal proceedings were reportedly initiated under Part 2 of Article 270- Violation of fire safety rules- of the Criminal code of Ukraine. The police are reportedly considering two theories, the use of malfunctioning electrical equipment and an arson attack. On December 10, the Principal of the Odesa's Economic College Liubov Kocherha was notified of suspicion and placed under house arrest. She is further also charged with neglect of duty.