From the AP:
Russia’s top investigative body says the number of people who died in a nightclub fire in the Urals city of Perm has risen to 109.
The Investigative Committee says 98 died on the spot and 11 others later died in hospitals.
The victims crushed each other to death and suffocated after the fire tore through the popular Lame Horse nightclub in Perm late Friday, filling the crowded barracks-like building with thick black smoke.
The Investigative Committee said Saturday that some 130 people were injured and many remain in critical condition.
Authorities said they arrested the registered owner of the club and the manager.
Officials said the club managers ignored repeated demands from authorities to change the club’s interior to comply with fire safety standards. “They have neither brains, nor conscience,” Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said, urging a tough punishment for the culprits.
Officials said most of the dead suffocated or were crushed at the exit
“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.”
Svetlana Kuvshinova, who was in the nightclub when the blaze broke out, told the 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.”
A video recorded by one of the clubgoers and run by Russian television stations showed flames engulfing the ceiling decorated with willow twigs as a host shouted in a casual tone: “Ladies and Gentlemen, guests of the club, we are on fire. Please leave the hall!”
Russia records nearly 18,000 fire deaths a year, several times the per-capita rate in the United States and other Western countries. Nightclub fires have killed thousands of people worldwide.
Ten people died when an entertainer’s clothing was ignited during a so-called “fire show” at a Moscow club in March 2007.
In February 2008, a fire in the Golden Rock nightclub in the Siberian city of Omsk killed four people. Officials said the blast might have been caused by natural gas.
A nightclub fire in the U.S. state of Rhode Island in 2003 killed 100 people after pyrotechnics used as a stage prop by the 1980s rock band Great White set ablaze cheap soundproofing foam on the walls and ceiling.