Migrants protest deadly blaze at disused factory

Refugees and homelessness groups staged a protest Thursday after the death of a 44-year-old Somali man in fire at an abandoned factory near Florence.

"The state is responsible for Ali's death," the protesters chanted outside the prefecture or office of the Italian government's representative in Florence.

The Somali, named as Ali Muse by Florence daily La Nazione died from severe burns in the overnight blaze at Sesto Fiorentino.

A group of around 80 African asylum-seekers, mainly Somalis, had been using the disused factory as a dormitory, where it appears the fire was caused by sparks from a stove.

Police had to form a human barricade to stop protesters forcing their way into the prefecture. Some protesters lay down in the road, bringing traffic to a halt while others tried to storm an exhibition on migration by renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei at Palazzo Strozzi, La Nazione reported.

Muse died when he re-entered the blazing building to try and recover his identity documents, which he needed for reunification with his wife and family, according to survivors.

Two other asylum seekers suffered smoke intoxication in the fire, but were not said to be in a serious condition.

The asylum-seekers were given temporary accommodation in tents near to the former factory, which was sealed off by police.

Electricity and water had been cut off at the factory and there was no sanitation there, according to the asylum seekers, who claim they were abandoned by the Italian state.