Deadly fire at Austria home for elderly

February 8, 2008 8:33:40 PM PST
At least 11 people were killed when a fire engulfed a home for the elderly in western Austria on Friday, a local government spokesman said. Six people were injured, three of them seriously, said Thomas Mair, a spokesman for the regional government in the province of Vorarlberg.

"It is a catastrophe, completely terrible," Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer told the Austria Press Agency. Gusenbauer arrived in the town of Egg late Friday, the news agency reported.

Twenty-three residents and two supervisors were in the building when the fire started, Mair said. He could not immediately identify the dead or the injured.

Some 250 firefighters also were at the scene, Mair said, adding that the fire had been put out.

Authorities are investigating the cause of the fire, which started in a first-floor room and quickly spread to the rest of the home, according to APA.

Austrian broadcaster ORF reported that thick smoke hampered rescue efforts in the 140-year-old building.