DUSHANBE , January 9, Asia-Plus -- A fire broke out in the orphanage “Chorbogh” for children with mental disabilities in the center of Dushanbe on the night of January 7-8. 

The orphanage, a wooden structure built in the 1930s, was home to more than 90 disabled children, many of whom could not move by themselves.

The fire broke out in one of the dormitories as the children aged 6 to 16 slept in their beds.  

According to information from the Ministry of Interior, thirteen children were killed in the fire and another seventy-nine others were evacuated; two of them, the 15-year-old Behzod Abdusattor and the 11-year-old Mahmadyusuf, are now in hospital.  The evacuated children were housed in lyceum at the Huvaydulloyev Street .      

Many neighbors rushed to pull children from the burning building before the firefighters arrived in the site of the fire.  Witnesses say it took at least 45 minutes for firefighting services to arrive even though the orphanage is in the center of the city.  One of witnesses, Zebunisso Sharipova, has told Asia-Plus that she rang the firefighting service several times but could get no reply.  But when she got reply she had to ring them three times and say that fire broke in the orphanage.  The firefighters arrived only after the third call, according to her.   In the meantime, the Tajik Firefighting Service chief, Nazarboy Jangiyev, for his part, claims that the fire broke out in mid-night, while they received call at 1:30 a.m.    

The fire destroyed the building leaving only scorched walls intact.

Authorities hold that the use of electric heaters may have overloaded the building’s electrical system and caused the fire.  

The tragic incident has been reported to Tajik President Emomali Rahmonov and by his order Prime Minister Oqil Oqilov held an ad hoc meeting and a special government commission led by Deputy Prime Minister Khairinisso Mavlonova was set up to investigate into the tragic incident. 

            On the same day, many diplomatic missions and international organizations active in Tajikistan have offered to help.