Eight people, some of them foreign nationals, died early on Wednesday in a fire at a hostel that was said to be operating illegally in the centre of the Latvian capital, Riga, according to police.
Firefighters and rescuers from the Latvian State Fire and Rescue Service said they were alerted to the scene on Merkela street in the city centre at around 5 am.
The building’s sixth floor and the roof were on fire, and rescuers found eight people dead. They evacuated a further 24 from the premises, news agency Baltic News Service said.
Latvian state television broadcast footage of flames pouring out of the top of the building, multiple fire engines and a ladder extending to the top, from where two firefighters were aiming a hose at the blaze.
Latvian authorities said the state-owned building was apparently housing an illegal hostel and the operators had recently conducted unauthorised renovation work.
Some of the victims were foreigners, Riga Mayor Martins Stakis told reporters.
The building is located in the commercial centre of Riga close to the city’s main bus and railway stations.