Nursing Home Fire in Russia Kills 11

“I don’t know how, but in some unbelievable way I managed to toss three elderly men out through the window,” she said.

The home’s director, identified as a 43-year-old woman, was detained on suspicion of causing death by negligence, the authorities said. But it was not clear that the woman had broken any laws, because legal loopholes allow such small private homes to operate largely unregulated.

Rady Khabirov, governor of the Republic of Bashkortostan, quickly arrived at the scene and promised that the government would work to find the victims’ relatives and pay for burials. He promised to investigate similar such homes across the region, while acknowledging that the government’s regulatory power over them was limited.

“Yes, this activity is not required to be licensed,” Mr. Khabirov said, according to his website. “But I don’t like that so many people were placed in one small house.”

Nursing homes are often stigmatized in Russian society, and families generally prefer to pay for care at home if they can, or provide it themselves. But with life expectancy rising — to 73 last year from 65 in 2000 — families are increasingly looking for an alternative, while avoiding large, Soviet-era nursing homes.

That has created a niche for small, unregulated homes, often run out of private houses with inadequate facilities. Mr. Sidnev, the retirement-home executive, said an estimated 30,000 people live in such small homes across Russia. They cater to lower-income families, sometimes charging as little as 1,000 rubles — about $13 — per day.

The problem with tougher regulation, Mr. Sidnev said, is that forcing such homes to shut down would mean that the government would have to find places for the residents.

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