4 people detained in Russian nightclub fire, death toll reaches 112

PERM, Russia — Grieving relatives on Sunday begin to bury the victims of a nightclub fire that left at least 112 people dead, as four people were ordered held pending an investigation into the country’s worst blaze in decades.

One of the Russian military cadets ordered to secure the area around  the site of night club fire stands near the entrance to the club in downtown in Perm

One of the Russian military cadets ordered to secure the area around the site of night club fire stands near the entrance to the club in downtown in Perm

PERM, Russia — Grieving relatives on Sunday begin to bury the victims of a nightclub fire that left at least 112 people dead, as four people were ordered held pending an investigation into the country’s worst blaze in decades.

About 130 people remained hospitalized with injuries from the early Saturday blaze, which witnesses said was sparked by onstage fireworks that shot into the decorative twig ceiling of the Lame Horse club in the industrial city of Perm.

The federal Investigative Committee said the suspects — the club’s owner, the executive director, the artistic director and a businessman hired to install pyrotechnics on the night of the blaze — were ordered taken into custody Sunday by Leninsky District Court.

The committee’s Web site said they were suspected of negligence causing multiple deaths and violating fire safety rules causing multiple deaths.

Mourning residents of the Ural Mountain city of over 1 million were indignant over the alleged negligence in a country where enforcement of fire safety standards is infamously poor and there have been several catastrophic blazes at drug-treatment facilities, nursing homes, apartment buildings and nightclubs in recent years.

Nadezhda Zhizhina placed flowers on the icy ground outside the Perm City Morgue in memory of her 21-year-old son, Sergei, who she said left behing a wife who was eight months pregnant.

She wasn’t expecting the compensation officials have promised to other victims’ relatives because Sergei earned money at the club as an unofficial administrator.

“I can’t even imagine what to do,” Zhizhina said, weeping. “He was a golden boy.”

The disaster outraged even those who didn’t lose relatives.

“This is nothing but criminal negligence,” said Marina Dryonina. “A terrible tragedy for our town.”

Many victims were trapped in a panicked crush for the exit as they attempted to escape the flames and thick black smoke.

Russian news agencies named the owner as Anatoly Zak. The pyrotechnics expert was named as Sergei Dergunov by his lawyer, Yekaterina Golysheva.

Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the club managers had been fined twice in the past for breaking fire safety regulations.

Russian clubs and restaurants often cover ceilings with plastic insulation and a layer of willow twigs to create a rustic look, one of many uses of combustible materials in buildings by businessmen who bribe officials to look the other way.

The nation records up to 18,000 fire deaths a year, several times the per-capita rate in the United States and other Western countries.

President Dmitry Medvedev has demanded that lawmakers draft changes to toughen the criminal punishment for failing to comply with fire safety standards.

Monday has been designated a national day of mourning, with entertainment events and television programs cancelled.

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