Anger mounts over Russian nightclub blaze that killed 112 as four suspects are arrested


Russian investigators blamed management negligence for a blaze at a provincial nightclub that killed 112 people as relatives gathered at a central morgue on Sunday to identify the charred remains of loved ones.

Eyewitnesses said sparks from fireworks set fire to wicker coverings on the walls and ceiling of the packed club on Friday, and that a stampede broke out as more than 200 guests rushed towards a single narrow exit.

An initial investigation found the club was not equipped with automatic fire extinguishers and that fireworks should not have been used there, Marina Zabbarova, head of the Russian Prosecutor General's Investigative Committee for Perm region, said.

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City in mourning: People light candles in front of the Lame Horse nightclub where a fire took place on Friday in the centre of Perm

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The death toll from a blaze that swept through a Russian nightclub early on Saturday rose to 112 and dozens remained in critical care

'When will this complacency end?' Zabbarova asked at a news conference in Perm, an industrial city 1,150 km (720 miles) northeast of Moscow. 'It was impossible to save anyone there.'

Four people have been arrested, including the nightclub's management and the director of the company that supplied the fireworks, Zabbarova said.

Roughly three dozen locals stood in the snow outside the morgue on Sunday, while a small crowd laid red carnations and lit candles in front of the gutted Lame Horse nightclub.

'The authorities are directly to blame, along with corruption and the criminality of the firemen,' 51-year old Leonid Ryabov said while buying flowers near the club. 'They have been carrying out inspections for eight years...'

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Relatives carry out the coffin of a victim of a night club fire from a morgue in Perm

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Stretcher-bearers carry a body near a morgue in Perm

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Nightclub tragedy: An orthodox priest reads lists of the injured during the night club fire, plastered on a wall at a hospital in Perm

In addition to the dead, roughly 130 people are suffering from smoke inhalation and extensive burns. About 80 of the victims have been flown to hospitals in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Chelyabinsk.

'It was monstrous, young people died there, the future of Russia,' said Sergei Prokofiev, an 18 year-old student and a stepbrother of one of the victims.

An all-day memorial service was also under way at the Holy Trinity cathedral in Perm.

Flags were flying at half mast in the city, and President Dmitry Medvedev has declared Monday a national day of morning.

Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the Russian Prosecutor General's Investigative Committee told the Itar-Tass news agency that prosecutors planned to charge the four suspects with causing reckless death by violating fire safety standards.

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A photo of a nightclub fire victim attached to flowers seen at the site of the tragedy

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Grieving relatives of Timur Parfiliev, a victim of a nightclub fire seen at a cemetery in Perm, about 700 miles east of Moscow

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A relative of a victim of a fire cries outside the Lame Horse nightclub where the fire took place in the centre of Perm

'This is not a premeditated murder, but this does not lessen the gravity of the crime,' Medvedev said on Saturday.

The Prosecutor General's office also said that the fireworks used at the nightclub were not authorised for indoor use.

Friday's fire was Russia's deadliest in decades, emergency officials said, and the worst nightclub fire worldwide since nearly 200 people died at a party in Buenos Aires in 2004.

Russian officials have in the past blamed poor fire safety standards for high death tolls in fires at orphanages, hospitals other institutions. More than 15,000 Russians died in fires last year, according to government figures.

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In this combination of images from amateur video, customers, some still carrying their drinks, press towards the exit, as fire and smoke start to fill a packed nightclub

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Police officers and investigators work at the Lame Horse nightclub where a fire broke out late Friday and into the early hours of Saturday

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