A fire at a clinic for drug addicts in the southeastern Kazakh city of Taldykorgan killed 38 people.

The government said in a statement that workers evacuated and rescued another 40 people from the facility which was built in 1951.

The cause of the fire was unknown.

The facility is one of many state-run healthcare institutions offering treatment and counselling to drug addicts in the former Soviet republic which lies on the main drug trafficking route from Afghanistan to Western Europe.

There are about 55,000 officially registered drug addicts in Kazakhstan where, in addition to smuggled Afghan opium and heroin, local wild-growing cannabis is available in abundance.