More than 60 elderly Russians died in their sleep overnight after a blaze swept through a nursing home in Southern Russia. VOA's Lisa McAdams in Moscow reports 35 others survived the fire.

Officials say the fire that swept through a nursing home in southern Russia killing more than 60 people could have been avoided. Authorities say safety violations, toxic materials, negligence, and the long distance from the nearest firehouse all contributed to the disaster.

One night watchman at the nursing home ignored two fire alarms, only reporting the blaze once he saw flames. Other staff at the home in the Black Sea region of Krasnodar had abandoned their posts, slowing efforts to find keys and open an emergency exit.

That left just three orderlies and a nurse to try to evacuate the mostly bed-ridden patients. Making matters worse, the town has no fire department and the nearest one called had to travel one hour to the site.

Russian television broadcast images of blackened bedding and bewildered families lining up to read casualty lists posted outside the facility.

Krasnodar's Deputy Governor, Murat Akhedzhak, says the priority now must be on the living. He says local authorities will do all they can to assist the survivors, nearly all of whom require medical treatment.

Akhedzhak says investigators suspect negligence, electrical short circuit or arson caused the blaze.

It is the latest in a series of deadly fires at schools, dormitories, hospitals and other state-run facilities in recent years. Russia records nearly 18,000 fire deaths each year - most blamed on serious violations of fire safety regulations.