Volendam: Fire in
a Dance Hall
At least eight die, hundreds injured in Dutch fire
At least eight people have died and about 130 injured in
a fire at a cafe in the Netherlands packed with teenagers
celebrating the New Year.
It's estimated that 700 people were inside the dance hall
called Little Heaven, in the town of Volendam northeast
of Amsterdam, when the fire broke out.
Seven men and one woman between the ages of 17 and 22 were
found dead on the third floor of the hotel. Fifteen of the
injured are reported to be clinging to life while another
60 people are reported to be in serious or critical condition.
Witnesses say they heard an explosion and then they couldn't
see anything as the hall was plunged into darkness.
Many of the people inside had no way to escape as most
of the emergency exits were blocked. Some fled the flames
by leaping from the three-storey building.
The mayor of Volendam speculated that blind panic was the
reason so many people were injured.
Police are not sure what caused the fire although a spokesman
said it may have started when Christmas decorations caught
fire. However, the report of an explosion has led some to
believe that fireworks may have been set off inside the
Volendam is a small fishing village on the Ijselmeer -
an inland lake which joins with the North Sea. Officials
warn the death toll may rise