38 Killed in Kazakhstan Drug Rehab Clinic Fire

Officials in Kazakhstan say 38 people were killed in a fire at a drug treatment center early Sunday.

The blaze broke out at about 5:30 a.m. local time (2330 GMT) and spread over an area of 7,000 sq. feet in Taldykorgan in the Central Asian nation's south, the Emergency Situations Ministry said.

Emergency workers evacuated 40 people from the building during the fire, the ministry said.

The cause of the blaze was not yet unclear.

Prime Minister Karim Masimov demanded the creation a special committee to investigate the incident, RIA-Novosti news agency cited a government spokesman as saying.

Deputy Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov will travel to the site of the fire Sunday, it said.

Violations of safety regulations are common in the former Soviet state and deaths caused by accidents and fires are frequent.

According to Emergency Situations Ministry statistics there have been almost 10,000 fires in Kazakhstan in the first eight months of 2009.