Saturday, December 5, 2009

Over 100 dead in fire at Russian club

Nearly 233 people were at the Lame Horse club in Perm when faulty fireworks triggered the inferno; more than half of the injured critical

MOSCOW: A fire ripped through a club on Friday in the Russian city of Perm, killing close to 100 people, according to officials. Russia’s Emergency Ministry said 98 people have been killed and 135 people were hospitalised, Russia Today television reported.

Regional Health Minister Dimitry Trishkin put the death toll at 101, including seven victims who died in hospital, the Interfax news agency reported. A spokesman of the regional emergencies service said more than half of the injured were in serious condition, raising fears of an even higher death toll.

An estimated 233 people were at the Lame Horse club, at a party hosted by the owners to celebrate the club’s eighth anniversary. Police said the cause of the blaze was still unknown, but was believed to have been triggered by faulty fireworks, the spokesman for the investigators, Vladimir Markin, said. He said the possibility of a terrorist attack had been discounted.

Most of the victims suffered from burn wounds and carbon monoxide poisoning. Many people were injured in the stampede to flee the inferno, Markin said. “There was an explosion and then came the fire. Some people ran out of the place, but some stayed. There are 1,000 people surrounding the venue — most of them are relatives of the dead and injured,” said Nina Yusupova, a Perm reporter for Ural-Inform TV. “Authorities have also sent psychologists to the site.”

Emergency service officials said the explosion took place at about 11 pm. About 24 fire engines and 124 firefighters were immediately deployed. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had ordered a plane to be sent to Perm with additional doctors and medical workers.

President Dmitry Medvedev has asked the ministers of emergencies, interior and health to fly to Perm and coordinate relief efforts on the ground.

Perm, a city of about 1.3 million, is about 1,000 kilometres east of Moscow.

Just last week, 26 people were killed in a terrorist attack on the rail line between Moscow and St Petersburg.

Most of the victims suffered from burn wounds and carbon monoxide poisoning

Relatives look at a list of the victims outside a local morgue in Perm

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