Owner Arrested in Russian Nightclub Fire

Stampede for single exit after fireworks ignited ceiling
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 5, 2009 9:02 AM CST
Owner Arrested in Russian Nightclub Fire
Russian police outside a nightclub in Perm, Russia, early Saturday, Dec. 5, 2009. An explosion apparently caused by pyrotechnics tore through the nightclub, killing more than 100 people.   (AP Photo/Mikhail Duzhba)

Russian authorities have arrested the owner and manager of a nightclub in the industrial city of Perm where a fire killed at least 109 people and critically injured about 90 early this morning. They are said to be looking for another four suspects. "They have neither brains, nor conscience," President Dmitry Medvedev said, urging the toughest possible punishment. He declared a national day of mourning Monday.

The blaze, sparked by onstage fireworks, tore through the club's ceiling, covered in decorative twigs and plastic sheeting, officials said. Many victims died in a panicked crush for the single exit. The club, called the Lame Horse, had been fined twice in the past for breaking fire safety regulations, authorities said, and managers were to report on fixing the flaws next Monday. Medvedev urged changes in the law to toughen punishment for violation of fire safety standards. (Read more Dmitry Medvedev stories.)

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