Government criticised in airport fire report

The number of people who died when fire broke out in the cell complex at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport last October was unnecessarily high because of mistakes made before and during the incident by the government authorities, according to an interim report by the Safety Investigation Council.

The report was leaked by the Nova tv programme last night.
Eleven people died in the fire which provoked a huge public outcry and suggestions of official negligence from various quarters. The cells housed asylum seekers who were set to be deported.
The leaked report concludes that there would have been fewer deaths if building and safety regulations had been properly adhered to. For example, the distance between the cells and exits were greater than allowed and guards did not appear to know how to react to the emergency.
The report adds that fire brigade and the Harlemmermeer council are also partially responsible for the tragedy and that care for those who survived the fire was inadequate.
According to today’s Volkskrant newspaper, the criticism contained in the report is catastrophic for the ministers involved – Rita Verdonk (immigration), Sybil Dekker (planning) and Piet Donner (justice). Donner declined to comment on the preliminary findings.

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