Deadly Istanbul nightclub fire was likely caused by welding sparks, Turkish media reports say

 ISTANBUL (AP) — A fire that spread through an Istanbul nightclub during renovations, killing 29 people, was likely caused by welding sparks igniting combustible material, a newspaper reported Wednesday, citing fire department officials. The fire engulfed the popular Masquerade nightclub on Tuesday, trapping workers and club employees inside. It left 29 people dead and another [[{“value”:”

ISTANBUL (AP) — A fire that spread through an Istanbul nightclub during renovations, killing 29 people, was likely caused by welding sparks igniting combustible material, a newspaper reported Wednesday, citing fire department officials.

The fire engulfed the popular Masquerade nightclub on Tuesday, trapping workers and club employees inside. It left 29 people dead and another person with serious injuries.

Authorities have detained nine people for questioning, including club managers and people in charge of the renovation work.

The club, which was closed for renovations during the holy month of Ramadan, was located on the ground and basement floors of a 16-story residential building in the Besiktas district on the European side of the city bisected by the Bosphorus Strait. It had planned to reopen on April 10.

Gov. Davut Gul told reporters that the cause of the fire was under investigation. The government assigned prosecutors and investigators to probe the incident.

The Yeni Safak newspaper, which is close to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government, said the fire is believed to have been caused by sparks from a welding machine being used to install sound insulation and decoration material. It reportedly set off an explosion which in turn set other construction material ablaze.

The newspaper cited unidentified fire department officials in its report. The Sabah newspaper published a similar report. Officials have not publicly commented on the fire’s cause.

HaberTurk television reported that the area where the renovation work was taking place was like a “labyrinth,” making it difficult for the victims to find their way out.

The victims included Gokhan Tevlek, a club DJ, Atanur Aladag, who was employed as a cook, and Akin and Yilmaz Kihri, a father-and-son team of welders, according to Turkish media reports.

Video from the scene showed flames billowing from the side of the building, firefighters dousing an entrance to the club and people carrying a victim on a stretcher toward an ambulance.

“After the fire brigade arrived, bodies started to come out of the nightclub,” state-run Anadolu quoted witness Sema Soganci as saying. “People were screaming, everything happened so suddenly. The flames were like crazy.”

“I started to cry, I was nervous,” she said.

Another witness, Mehmet Cengiz, told Anadolu, “We saw firefighters entering and coming out all blackened.”

The nightclub had a capacity of 4,000 guests, according to its website. The manager of the residential building told reporters Wednesday that the premise was originally designed as a cinema.

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu said the club had not obtained the required permits to conduct renovations.

The Associated Press



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