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39 people die after radicals set Trade Unions House on fire in Ukraine

03.05.2014 15:44

39 anti-government activists have died in a fire at Odessa's Trade Unions House. Some burned to death, while others suffocated or jumped out of windows, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry reported. The building was set ablaze by pro-Kiev radicals.

A total of 46 people have died in Odessa's violence on Friday and almost 200 others have sustained injuries, Odessa Region prosecutor Igor Borshulyak told journalists on Saturday.

39 of the dead lost their lives in the fire at the Odessa Trade Unions House, according to the Ukrainian emergencies agency. 

31 of the dead were found inside the building, eight more were found outside by law enforcement officers, the agency's statement reads.

Police detained over 130 people following Friday's bloody clashes and opened up 10 criminal investigations with charges including premeditated murder and violence against law enforcement officers.

According to the ministry, the Friday standoff on Odessa included "anti-Maidan" activists on one side and "football fans" from Odessa and Kharkov, as well as "euro-Maidan" activists, on the other. A criminal case on the charges of mass unrest has been opened.

The Trade Unions House was set on fire by pro-Kiev radicals after they surrounded and destroyed the tent camp of anti-government activists that stood in front of the building on Odessa's Kulikovo Field Square. It was torched in a storming attempt after some of the anti-Maidan activists rallying in the square barricaded themselves inside the building.

The majority of the victims were found on the floors of the Trade Unions House having apparently burned to death or suffocated from smoke. Others jumped out of the building's windows, according to police.

Earlier reports of the clashes in Odessa said that both sides used Molotov cocktails and, allegedly, gunfire. Part of the pro-Maidan activists reportedly bore insignia of the radical Right Sector group.

A live video stream from inside the building showed disturbing scenes of supposedly dead bodies lying around the rooms with thick smoke in the air and blood stains on the floor.

Most of the bodies filmed had St. George ribbons attached to their clothes, distinguishing the victims as pro-Russian or anti-Kiev activists.

The person filming said he counted up to 25 dead bodies on the upper floors alone.

As the house was engulfed in flames, photos posted on Twitter showed people hanging out of windows and sitting on windowsills of several floors, possibly preparing to jump. Reports claimed that those who jumped and survived were surrounded and beaten by football ultras and the Right Sector.