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Saturday, December 5, 2009

111 dead in Russia nightclub blaze

134 others injured; the blaze was sparked by fireworks which ignited the plastic ceiling; stampede at exit added to the toll

MOSCOW: At least 111 people were killed and 134 injured, most of them seriously, when an explosion caused by fireworks set ablaze a packed nightclub in the Russian city of Perm early Saturday. 
    The blast hit the Lame Horse nightclub as over 220 people, mostly its employees and their families, were partying inside to celebrate its eighth anniversary, ITAR-TASS reported quoting local police. 
    "The accident was due to a violation of instructions when 
launching fireworks," senior judicial official Vladimir Markin was quoted as saying. 
    The state-owned Vesti TV said that 111 people were killed and 134 injured, 85 of them seriously, in the accident which occurred the Russian Ural city of Perm in the wee hours Saturday. 
    Most of the victims succumbed to burns and carbon monoxide poisoning. 
    "The majority of the deaths were the result of burns or gas inhalation, Markin, was quot
ed as saying by 'RIA Novosti'. "Along with this, there was a crush at the exit" as panicked crowd scrambled hard to escape, he said. 
    He ruled out the possibility that the accident was caused by a terrorist act. "There is no chance it was a terrorist act, I can say that 100 per cent," Markin was quoted as saying by Vesti TV. 
    "The fire spread very quickly,'' said Marina Zabbarova, chief investigator for the local prosecutor's office. "Panic arose which led to a mass 
death of people.'' 
    News footage shot later outside the Lame Horse showed charred bodies lying in rows on the ground amid a light snowfall. 
    Rescue workers carried bodies on stretchers into waiting vans. 
    Svetlana Kuvshinova, who was in the nightclub when the blaze broke out, told AP it started after three fireworks fountains spewed sparks, igniting the plastic ceiling. 
    "The fire took seconds to 
spread,'' she said. ``It was like a dry haystack. There was only one way out. They nearly stampeded me.'' 
    Another clubgoer said panic spread quickly through the crowd. 
    "There was only one exit, and people starting breaking down the doors to get out,'' said a woman who identified herself only as Olga, smeared with soot and wearing a filthy fur coat. 
    "They were breaking the door and panic set in. Everything was in smoke. I couldn't 
see anything.'' 
    A video recorded by one of the clubgoers and run by Russian TV showed flames engulfing the ceiling as a host shouted in a casual tone: `Ladies and Gentlemen, guests of the club, we are on fire. Please leave the hall!'' 
    People reluctantly and slowly began heading toward the exit, some of them turning back to look at the burning ceiling, but then rushed away in panic as flames quickly spread around seconds later. AGENCIES

Smoke billowing out of the Lame Horse nightclub

Bodies of some of those who died in the blaze

An injured victim being taken away


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