Page last updated at 15:05 GMT, Monday, 7 December 2009

Day of mourning for Russia nightclub fire victims

Relatives mourn over the coffin of a victim of a Russian nightclub fire outside Perm, 7 December 2009
The funerals of many victims were being held in churches around Perm

Russia is holding a national day of mourning for the 113 people killed in a nightclub fire in the city of Perm.

Some television and radio programmes have been cancelled, flags are flying at half-mast and memorial services are being held across the country.

More than 140 people were injured, some seriously, when fireworks triggered the blaze in the early hours of Saturday.

Four people, including the club's co-owner, were charged on Monday over the blaze. All are in police custody.

Three of my friends were sitting too far in the corner of the club when the fire broke out and two of them at that table died. One more died in another part of the club
Sergei, a local businessman from Perm

The club's co-owner, manager and art-director and also the manager of the firm that had supplied the fireworks were on Monday charged with manslaughter and breaches of fire safety.

In Perm, residents laid hundreds of red carnations outside the Lame Horse nightclub, which was surrounded by candles and photos of victims.

The funerals of more than 20 victims were being held in churches around the city on Monday.

Many of those who died were trapped in the crush as more than 200 people fought to escape the smoke and flames through one narrow exit.

The death toll climbed to 113 on Monday after a man and a young woman died in hospital, officials said.

Burns units

It is estimated there were more than 200 people inside the club when the fire broke out during a firework show to mark the club's eighth anniversary.

Amateur footage taken inside the club at the time showed flames taking hold in wicker decorations that were covering the ceiling.

The most seriously injured victims were airlifted to specialist burns units at hospitals in Moscow, St Petersburg and other cities.

Doctors said many had more than 50% burns and some were being kept alive by artificial respirators.

On Sunday, a memorial service was held at the main church in Perm, some 1,400km (870 miles) east of the capital Moscow.

The first funerals were held amid bitter recriminations from relatives towards those they held responsible for the tragedy.


Amateur video shows how the tragedy unfolded at the nightclub in Perm

At the funeral of 26-year-old barman Timur Perfilyev on Sunday, a friend, Andrei, told how the employee had got out of the club but went back to help others and perished.

"They found him when they were searching the ruins," he said, blaming "corrupt authorities" for poor fire safety rules at the club.

Correspondents say fire inspections in Russia are routinely used as a way to demand bribes rather than enforce safety rules.

"The authorities are directly to blame, along with corruption and the criminality of firemen," said Perm resident Leonid Ryabov, 51, who was buying flowers to lay near the club.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has demanded that those found responsible be punished with the full force of the law.

Russian Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu has called for spot checks on all Russia's nightclubs to be completed before the end of the year.

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