More than 100 killed in blaze at Russian restaurant

By Calvin Palmer

More than 100 people were killed yesterday when fireworks started a blaze in a restaurant in the Russian city of Perm.

The death toll is 102 and likely to rise. Seven people died later died from their injuries in hospitals.

The region’s health minister Dmitry Trishkin said: “Right now there are 140 people in hospitals, including 85 who are in a very serious state.”

The fire occurred at the Lame Horse restaurant, as 230 people, mostly employees and their families, celebrated its seventh anniversary. It is believed to have been caused by a firework going wrong, according to police.

Most of the victims suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning in the crush as people tried to escape the building.

“There were fireworks launched at the scene, and one hit the plastic ceiling, setting all ablaze. People panicked and succumbed to burns, general crush and gas poisoning,” the Perm region’s public security minister Igor Orlov said.

Officials have ruled out an act of terrorism.  FSB security service experts found no trace of explosive devices at the scene.

“The accident was due to a violation of instructions when launching fireworks,” the investigative committee’s spokesman Vladimir Markin said.

“There is no chance it was a terrorist act, I can say that 100 percent,” he added.

A government commission has been set up to tackle the tragedy, and two airplanes equipped to transport people with serious burns would be dispatched to the city, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Hospitals in Moscow were getting ready to receive the injured.

Perm, a city of 1.2 million people, lies near the Urals, about 700 miles east of Moscow.

[Based on a report by AFP.]

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