A fire raged through a psychiatric hospital north of Moscow on Friday (April 26) and 38 people were feared dead, Russian emergency officials and media reports said.

The Emergency Situations Ministry said that 41 people could have been in the building when the fire broke out - 38 patients and three staff members - and three were evacuated.

It said emergency workers searching the hospital had found 12 bodies so far and that the fire had been extinguished. A Health Ministry official said 38 people were feared dead, state-run RIA news agency reported.

There were bars on the windows of the single-storey building in Ramensky, 120 km (70 miles) north of Moscow, and some patients apparently died while trying frantically to make it to the main entrance to escape, but many others died in their beds, Itar-Tass cited an unnamed source as saying.

The Emergency Situations Ministry said the fire started on or under the roof of the hospital at about 2:20 a.m. (2220 GMT on Thursday), but did not give its cause.

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