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Karaoke Club Fire Kills 46 in Indonesia

July 09, 2002|From Times Wire Services

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Police using explosives blew a hole in a nightclub wall to allow desperate patrons to escape a raging fire that killed at least 46 people in Indonesia's South Sumatra province, officials said Monday.

Some people leaped to their deaths from the top of the four-story karaoke bar in the provincial capital of Palembang as flames engulfed the roof, police Capt. Arum Prioyono said.

The blaze started late Sunday and is believed to have been caused by faulty wiring. Firefighters extinguished the fire Monday morning.

Officials offered conflicting reports on the number of dead. Police said this morning they could confirm that 46 people were killed, but Rudi, a fire brigade official who, like many Indonesians, uses only one name, said rescuers had retrieved 52 bodies.

Police also said that the bar manager had been detained for questioning and that they were looking for the owner.

"We're questioning [the manager] as a witness first, but we will indeed determine if the incident can be linked to the criminal code," Prioyono.

Palembang is an industrial city about 250 miles northwest of Jakarta, the capital.

The karaoke bar, in a busy downtown shopping area, did not have proper fire exits and the only elevator was broken, Prioyono said. Several of the victims died after jumping from the upper floors to escape, he said.

Operators of karaoke bars, cinemas, Internet cafes and other entertainment businesses in Indonesia frequently ignore fire safety rules or fail to provide emergency exits on the premises.

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