- Title: ARGENTINA: NIGHTCLUB FIRE KILLS 169 PEOPLE IN BUENOS AIRES.
- Date: 31st December 2004
- Summary: (U3) BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA (DECEMBER 31, 2004) (REUTERS ) GV: EXTERIOR OF ONE OF THE HOSPITALS CARING FOR VICTIMS, CROWDS OF PEOPLE WAITING OUTSIDE MV/CU/GV: RELATIVES AND FRIENDS OUTSIDE THE HOSPITAL WAITING FOR NEWS (7 SHOTS) Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
- Embargoed: 15th January 2005 12:00
- Location: BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA
- Country: Argentina
- Topics: Disasters,General
- Reuters ID: LVAE779EXLLVD0GIC9MDLBSAXDVH
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: A fire in a Buenos Aires nightclub kills at least
A blaze in a Buenos Aires nightclub packed with
young people celebrating the New Year holidays killed at
least 169 and injured 375, city officials said on Friday
The blaze is thought to have been caused by a flare
being fired into the club's ceiling, sending burning debris
onto the crowd and triggering a stampede.
"We were taking people out one after another, alive
thankfully. What happened was that the bathrooms were in
the back and we had to go back five metres and couldn't see
anything. Imagine - we had to go in the back, climb up the
stairs with all the smoke, without light, just feeling,"
said one survivor.
The flares are sold on streets all over Latin America
for the New Year holiday festivities.
Local media reported that as many as 3,000 to 4,000
people may have been inside the Republica Cromagnon club in
the gritty, run-down neighbourhood of Once listening to a
band when the fire broke out an hour before midnight on
Children as young as 10 were among the victims in what
was being described as one of Argentina's worst disasters,
according to people helping in the rescue effort.
Witnesses told Reuters reporters at the scene that a
flare was shot into the club's ceiling, which was covered
with foam. Pieces of the burning ceiling fell, triggering a
stampede and many people collapsed from smoke inhalation.
It was not immediately clear if fire exits and doors
were unblocked. Police said the fire was extinguished quickly, but
rescue workers spent a few hours removing people on
stretchers from inside the club, and there were bodies
lying on the sidewalks outside the club.
Parents first rushed to the scene desperate to find
their sons and daughters amid the chaos, but then flocked
to the 14 hospitals where the dead and injured were taken.
At a makeshift morgue in a garage beside the club,
witnesses said 30 bodies were lined up and family members
were allowed to pass by to identify them.
The blaze was the worst in the Americas since a
supermarket fire in neighbouring Paraguay last August
killed nearly 400 people. The owners are accused of closing
the doors after the fire broke out to stop looting.
Many other fires have occurred in Latin America in
recent years because of fireworks, sold on most every
street corner around the holidays.
Exactly three years ago, more than 300 people were
killed when a fire roared through a crowded shopping area
in the Peruvian capital Lima. The blaze started with an
explosion at a shop selling fireworks for New Year parties.
Thursday night's Buenos Aires club fire recalled a
similar blaze in the United States in February 2003 when a
pyrotechnics display at the start of a heavy metal concert
ignited sound-proofing material at a club in Rhode Island,
killing 100 people and injuring nearly 200.
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