118 dead in Russian nightclub blaze

January 2010

Live event industry

At least 118 revellers have been confirmed as dead after a nightclub fire in Perm, Russia. The fire, which was apparently started by pyrotechnic fountains let off inside the Lame Horse nightclub, seems to have ignited the ceiling and amateur video footage shows patrons rushing to escape the blaze in thick smoke with panicked clubbers crushing each other to death as they tried to flee a fast-moving fire late on Friday 4th Dec. Russian police have arrested four people including the club manager. Officials said most of the dead suffered smoke inhalation or were crushed at the exit with chief prosecutor for the Perm region Marina Zabbarova saying “The fire spread very quickly …. 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 saying “The fire took seconds to spread,” she said. “It was like a dry haystack. There was only one way out. They nearly stampeded me.” Reports also say that the club, which was celebrating its 8th birthday, had only one exit. Russian TV say that firefighters were on the scene just one minute after the alarm was called in and that they took less than an hour to put the fire out. 80 of the 135 injured were said to be in critical condition and ambulances ferried many of the injured to planes waiting at the airport, where they were being evacuated to Moscow hospitals. Perm, a city of around 1 million people, is about 700 miles (1,200 kilometers) east of Moscow in the Ural Mountains. Premier Vladimir Putin accused officials of being negligent in failing to enforce fire regulations at the nightclub telling reporters he also suspected corruption saying that officials had failed to follow up a warning issued to the club owners a year ago.

In the December issue of the Journal of Crowd Safety and Security Management,   Ben Challis looks at legal aftermath of the 2003 Great White disaster, the US nightclub tragedy when 100 died after fireworks were let off inside a venue and ignited cheap soundproofing.


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