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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 December, 2004, 22:58 GMT
Film-goers flee blaze in Istanbul
Turkish film-goers after the fire
There were fears that people were trapped inside
Hundreds of people have escaped from a packed cinema in Istanbul where a blaze broke out at the premiere of a Turkish horror film, causing panic.

Hospital staff treated 130 people for the effects of smoke inhalation but no-one was badly hurt, city police said.

Emergency services rushed to the scene to rescue people feared trapped as dazed film-goers rushed around outside.

A candle used as part of a "fright tunnel" in the cinema's foyer is said to have started the blaze.

We had made a 'fright tunnel' with fabric and cardboard and a candle was knocked over
Cinema employee

TV pictures from the scene showed people running around in confusion outside the building in the city's Sisli district as thick smoke billowed out.

Some people lay on the ground, their faces blackened with soot.

Firefighters have now extinguished the blaze, Turkish media report.

Panic in the dark

The fire began at about 2130 (1930 GMT) on Tuesday as the cinema was showing the premiere of The Spell and many celebrities appear to have been among the audience, including stars from the film.

"We had made a 'fright tunnel' with fabric and cardboard and a candle was knocked over, and within moments the fire grew," an unnamed employee told reporters.

A film-goer told Reuters news agency of the panic inside the darkened cinema:

"The lights suddenly went off and people used lights from their mobile phones to find their way out. Someone broke down a door, and we escaped. No one understood what had happened. Panic broke out."

Mustafa Sarigul, the Mayor of Sisli, said a "major disaster" had been averted "with little damage".

Country profile: Turkey
06 Oct 04 |  Country profiles

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