A fire at the Tattes asylum centre in Vernier, canton Geneva, has claimed the life a 29-year-old Eritrean man and injured 40 others. The cause of the blaze remains unknown.
The Eritrean victim died as a result of smoke intoxication. Eleven asylum seekers sustained serious injuries and two are currently in intensive care. An investigation of the incident is currently underway.
According to the captain of the Geneva fire services, the fire started in a room on the ground floor of a building that houses 189 refugees, all of them men. Thick black smoke spread quickly to the top three floors, which caused the inhabitants to panic. Several were hurt when they attempted to escape through windows.
The top three floors of the building will be renovated within one or two weeks, according to the asylum centre’s spokesperson. The ground floor is expected to take more time to restore.
The asylum seekers will be temporarily housed in emergency shelters at Trois-Chênes, which offers 100 places, and Libellules, with 80 places.
This is not the first time a fire has broken out at the Tattes asylum centre. In 2011, a blaze injured 11 refugees and another in 2010 damaged five rooms.
Tattes is the largest centre for asylum seekers in Switzerland and hosts 700 refugees.
swissinfo.ch and agencies