An explosion and fire that officials blamed on pyrotechnics tore through the Lame Horse nightclub in the Russian city of Perm early today, killing 109 people, the Russian emergencies ministry said. The regional security minister Igor Orlov said the popular club had a suspended plastic ceiling that caught fire quickly when ignited by so-called "cold fireworks", generally fountain-type displays with lower temperatures than conventional fireworks, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.
"The majority of the deaths were the result of burns or gas inhalation," state news agency RIA Novosti quoted Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for Russia's top investigate body, as saying. "Along with this, there was a crush at the exit." Dramatic video from inside the club, broadcast on the state-run Vesti news channel, showed the plastic ceiling starting to burn and the club gradually filling with smoke as young, stylishly-dressed patrons gradually realise what is happening and mob one of the exits.
At least 200 patrons were reportedly in the one-story nightclub when the fire began. * agencies