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Moscow Fire At Foreign Students' Dorm Kills 32 - 2003-11-24

A fire that swept through a Moscow dormitory housing foreign students has killed 32 people and injured nearly 140.

Witnesses say many of the injured had jumped from windows of the five-story building. The blaze broke out early Monday at the Patrice Lumumba Friendship of Peoples University in the Russian capital.

The fire burned for three hours before firefighters were able to put it out. More than 270 students were registered as living inside the building.

Police and students said the victims came from many countries, including China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Others were from Angola, Ecuador and Tahiti.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but Moscow's mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, says initial information suggests an electrical short-circuit may have been responsible. Russian news agencies report authorities have not ruled out arson.

The university, founded in 1960, is named after (Patrice Lumumba) the first prime minister of what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. It once was a showcase for subsidized Marxist education for students from the Third World, but has been in decline since the collapse of the Soviet Union.