Panicked clubgoers crushed each other to death in a popular Russian nightspot as they tried to flee a fast-moving fire that one eyewitness told The Associated Press was started by pyrotechnic fountains set up on the stage.
Officials said 112 people died when the fire tore through the Lame Horse nightclub in the city of Perm late on Friday.
News agencies said police quickly arrested the woman who managed the club. Officials said most of the dead suffered smoke inhalation or were crushed at the exit.
Flames ripped through the nightclub as around 230 people celebrated the venue’s eighth anniversary, police said.
Svetlana Kuvshinova, who was in the nightclub when the blaze broke out, told the AP it started after three fireworks fountains spewed sparks, igniting the plastic ceiling.
“The fire took seconds to spread,” she said. “It was like a dry haystack. There was only one way out. They nearly stampeded me.”
Another clubgoer said panic spread quickly through the crowd. “There was only one exit, and people starting breaking down the doors to get out,” said a woman who identified herself only as Olga, smeared with soot and wearing a filthy fur coat. “They were breaking the door and panic set in. Everything was in smoke. I couldn’t see anything.”
Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for Russia’s top investigative body, said that there was no suspicion of a terrorist attack.