Nightclub bosses held after 110 die

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The Independent Online

Russian investigators blamed management negligence for a blaze at a provincial nightclub that killed 112 people on Friday night.

Russians mourned on Sunday for the revellers killed in a nightclub blaze, expressing anger at breaches of fire safety rules that prosecutors have blamed for Russia's most deadly fire in decades.

Sparks from a firework show set fire to wicker coverings on the walls and ceiling of the packed Lame Horse nightclub in Perm on Friday, provoking a stampede as more than 200 partygoers rushed towards a single narrow exit.

The club's owner, two managers and the man who organised the firework show were remanded in custody yesterday by a Perm court on suspicion of manslaughter and breaching fire regulations.

President Dmitry Medvedev demanded they be punished with the full force of the law, but the blaze has sparked anger over the failure by the authorities to enforce fire safety regulations.

"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 in Perm - a city 720 miles east of Moscow.

Ryabov, along with others who braved temperatures of minus 20 degrees Celsius to lay hundreds of bunches of red carnations outside the club, said corruption had allowed the club to ignore basic fire rules for years.

More than 15,000 people die each year in fires across Russia and senior officials admit that fire inspections are routinely used as a way to demand bribes from establishments rather than enforce safety rules.

In addition to the dead, another 123 people are still in a serious condition at hospitals in Moscow, St Petersburg and other cities after being airlifted to major burns units.

Doctors said many of the injured have more than 50 percent burns and some are being kept alive by artificial respirators.