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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 26 February, 2003, 11:48 GMT
US club fire band to testify
Fireworks sparked the blaze
The investigation seeks to ascertain whether there is a criminal case
Members of a US rock band whose concert was engulfed by flames last week are set to testify before a jury investigating the tragedy, which left 97 people dead.

Great White's guitarist, Ty Longley, died in last Thursday's blaze at the Station Concert Club in the eastern US state of Rhode Island.

The remaining four members of the band were subpoenaed to give evidence to a grand jury investigating whether criminal charges should be brought.

Investigators are trying to determine who is ultimately responsible for the blaze, which appears to have started during the band's fireworks display last Thursday.

The band insist they had permission from the club to carry out the display - denied by the owners of the venue.

Answers needed

The grand jury is expected to convene on Wednesday, with members of the band testifying the same day.

It is as yet unclear whether the club's owners, Jeffrey and Michael Derderian, have also been subpoenaed.

The Derderian brothers were subjected to sharp criticism from the Rhode Island attorney general Patrick Lynch on Tuesday when he appealed for them to contact authorities to respond to questions, and not to confine their comments to the press.

But he said the investigation was not a case of "the band versus the Derderians".

On Monday, Jeffrey Derderian had said he would be willing to provide information but would not indicate when, saying he and his brother had lost friends in the disaster and were "devastated".

"We want answers, too, and at the appropriate time we will be willing to make a full statement," he was quoted as saying.

"Our number one concern right now is with the families that have been affected."

Great White future

The club's owners and band members have been locked in a dispute over whether permission was given for the band to stage the fireworks display during the concert that sparked the fire.

Two Great White members flew back to West Warwick, the site of the club, late on Tuesday evening.

"We're just devastated by the loss. It's a devastating situation," bass player David Filice was reported as saying.

The band had no further concerts or tours planned, said their publicist.

Remains identified

State Governor Don Carcieri said 93 of the 97 remains of those killed in the blaze had been identified.

Recent reports had suggested that the identification process had been going very slowly.

However, Mr Carcieri said, a discrepancy between the number of people reported missing and those confirmed dead meant search crews with dogs were going over the charred ruins of the building once again.

"This is a tough, very, very tough process and the families and the impacts of this thing are rippling throughout the state," Mr Carcieri said.

Of the 190 people injured in the fire, about 60 remain in hospital, at least 24 in critical condition.


SEE ALSO:
Memorials for US club fire dead
25 Feb 03 |  Americas
Dispute rages over US club tragedy
22 Feb 03 |  Americas


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