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Fire and water accidents claim 72 lives in 2023

Kopli Rescue Brigade.
Kopli Rescue Brigade. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Fires proved fatal for 35 people, while 37 drowned in Estonia last year. The number of rescue calls exceeded 30,000 for the first time.

The Rescue Board received 30,674 calls for help last year, which constitutes a new record. Voluntary rescuers responded in 3,883 cases, which is also a new record.

Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets (SDE) said at a press conference Wednesday that the record number of calls once again demonstrates the need to contribute to rescue workers' training, working conditions and salaries.

The minister pointed out as a positive development the fact that more people went to work for the Rescue Board than left last year in which a recent salary advance undoubtedly played a role. Läänemets also emphasized the role of voluntary rescue commandos, which received €4.6 million for renovation of fire depots or equipment last year.

The interior minister also mentioned civil defense and the CREVEX exercise held last year.

The total number of fires grew in 2023, from 3,061 last year to 3,118, while the number of home fires has seen a steady decline of several years. These came to 499 last year.

Thirty-five people lost their lives in fires in 2023, which is the lowest figure since Estonia regained its independence. The Rescue Board managed to pull 90 people from fires. Fatal fire accidents tend to befall older people (average age 59) who are very often (90 percent of the time) under the influence of alcohol at the time.

In the case of water accidents, too, half of victims are suspected of having been under the influence. The latter claimed 37 lives, including four children younger than seven. The children were unattended in all cases. The Rescue Board managed to pull 24 people from the water.

Bomb squads were called in 1,523 cases and exploded more than 10,840 pieces of ordnance, more than half of it unearthed in Ida-Viru County.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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