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Explosion at Russian nightclub kills 102

Published 05/12/2009

In this image from RTR Russian Channel, rescuers carry the body of a victim outside a nightclub in Perm, Russia, early Saturday, Dec. 5, 2009
In this image from RTR Russian Channel, rescuers carry the body of a victim outside a nightclub in Perm, Russia, early Saturday, Dec. 5, 2009
Rescuers carry the body of a victim outside a nightclub in Perm
People read lists of the injured at a hospital following a deadly fire in Perm, Russia, early Saturday, Dec. 5, 2009
People read lists of the injured at a hospital following a deadly fire in Perm, Russia, early Saturday, Dec. 5, 2009
In this image made from RTR Russian Channel, rescuers gather outside a nightclub in Perm, Russia, early Saturday, Dec. 5, 2009.
Investigators and relatives of the victims gather outside a nightclub in Perm, Russia, early Saturday, Dec. 5, 2009

Over 100 people have been killed in Russia after an explosion and fire, blamed on fireworks, tore through a nightclub in the Russian city of Perm early today.

Video from inside the Lame Horse club, broadcast on the state-run Vesti news channel, showed the ceiling starting to burn and the club filling with smoke as young, stylishly dressed patrons gradually realise what is happening and mob an exit.

News footage shot later outside the nightclub showed charred bodies lying in rows on the ground amid a light snowfall. Rescue workers carried bodies on stretchers into waiting vans.

Vesti reported that the blaze started when a performer juggling fireworks accidentally set the plastic suspended ceiling on fire.

The federal Emergency Situations Ministry said in a statement on its website that 102 people were killed and 134 injured. Perm region security officials said 80 of the injured were in critical condition.

Ministry spokesman Oleg Popov told the media the victims died from smoke inhalation and injuries sustained in the crush at the club's exit.

Firefighters were on the scene one minute after the alarm was called in, the ministry said, and they took less than an hour to put the fire out.

The Interfax news agency said an owner of the Lame Horse had been detained by police.

Identification of the bodies was scheduled to begin today, RIA Novosti said.

Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for Russia's top investigative body, said that there was no suspicion of a terrorist attack. RIA Novosti said the local branch of Russia's Federal Security Service had sifted through the site but found no evidence of a bomb.

Russia has been on edge since last week's bombing of the high-speed Nevsky Express passenger train midway between Moscow and St Petersburg, which killed 27. It was the first fatal terrorist attack outside Russia's restive Caucasus republics since 2004.

Chechen rebels claimed responsibility for the blast.

Perm, a city of around one million people, is about 700 miles east of Moscow in the Ural Mountains.

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