The death toll of a horrific fire in Lame Horse night club in the city of Perm, in Russia’s Ural region, has reached to 109 people. The fire in the club started on the ceiling, which was decorated with brushwood, Interfax reports.
A source told the news agency that the club was holding a party at night of December 5 to celebrate the anniversary of Lame Horse.
“Organizers of the party decided to have a show of the so-called cold fireworks, which is considered to be one of the safest types of fireworks,” an official said.
The ceiling of the club was too low for the show: the column of sparks shot right into the ceiling, which was decorated with brushwood everywhere. An eyewitness said that the ceiling caught fire like a match. The light in the club went out immediately.
Fire-fighting brigades arrived very quickly, but they could not do anything.
Eyewitnesses said the venue had only one exit, and a stampede ensued. Russian TV channels have shown footage filmed by clubgoer with a digital camera, showing the flames spreading over a ceiling decorated with twigs, in an apparent barn theme.
The owner and manager of the club, Anatoly Zak and Svetlana Yefremova, have been arrested, and face jail terms of up to seven years. Four other suspects are wanted in the case.
President Medvedev accused those running the club of gross negligence, and called for harsh punishments, RIA Novosti reports.
"They have no brains and no conscience. They showed complete indifference to what was going on... They must face full punishment," he said.
The president said the sentences the culprits face under current laws are far too mild.
"We must think about the laws on such events. They should be much stricter, and failure to abide by them, including breaches of fire safety regulations, should be much more severely punished."
The venue, which covers an area of 500 square meters, was almost completely destroyed by the blaze.
The club is known to have held several indoor fireworks displays in the past, shown in the image gallery on the Lame Horse website www.clubxl.ru.
The site still displays an advert for last night's party marking "the birthday of our favorite club", saying "guests dressed as new-born babies are admitted free until midnight."
The site offers "a bright lively disco with energy and drive with modern dance music - and at 1:00 at night the show begins." The club, with capacity of 450, says its guests are subject to "face control".
Perm Territory Governor Oleg Chirkunov has announced three days of mourning as of today.
"During the three days of mourning, Russian flags and Perm Territory flags will be flown at half mast. TV and radio stations and cultural establishments are asked to cancel all entertainment events and broadcasts during these days," the governor's press service said.