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Ozone Disco Fire Kills 150 in Manila, Phillipines

The death toll in the tragic Manila disco fire has risen to at least 150. Survivors from the worst nightclub fire since a blaze killed 164 people in Southgate, Kentucky, in 1977 said that they saw electric sparks and smoke just before the lights in the building went out. When the people inside of the disco realized that there was a fire and that there was only one way out -- they panicked. A stampede soon ensued.

The heat from the blaze was so intense that many bodies were reported to be charred and fused together. Manila police said that Identification of many of the victims is said to be very difficult, due to the extent of their injuries. Many of those killed may have been trampled in a rush to the exits as late recognition of the fire occured.

When the fire broke out at a little past midnight, the club was packed with about 350 young people. Most were college or high-school students celebrating the end of the school year. The club once had a fire exit, but that was said to be blocked by a new building next door to the disco. Firefighters, after knocking down the blaze, reported that bodies were piled waist-deep and that many of the victims were trampled to death by a stampede to get out of the burning building.

One female survivor described the scene, "We saw smoke and tried to run outside, but were caught in a stampede. I was stepped on, but managed to force my way out." Another survivor said, "Suddenly the lights went out. I thought it was a gimmick, but then suddenly somebody shouted 'Fire!' All I can remember is that there was panic... and a lot of pushing and shoving"

Cause of the fire has not been officially determined, but there has been reports that a fuel tank in the kitchen may have exploded. Some of the survivors said that it appeared that the blaze began as an electrical short in a disc jockey's booth.

Manila hospitals were reportedly overwhelmed by the number of injured victims; many that were brought in with second and third-degree burns and smoke inhalation injuries. Others had suffered broken bones as the result of being stepped on. Several victims are reported to be in extremely critical condition and doctors say that the death toll may continue to rise as

Police and fire officials said an intensive investigation was underway to ascertain the actual cause of the fire. One investigator told ENN that the possibility of "sabotage" or arson has not been ruled out, and that "all possible causes" would be given "due consideration."

 
 
 
   
 
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