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Archive for Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Dozens die after theater catches fire

September 6, 2005

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— Fire broke out in an Egyptian theater during a crowded performance late Monday, causing hundreds of audience members to flee the burning building in panic, a police official said. At least 29 people were killed, some from the flames and some in the ensuing stampede.

About 1,000 people were crowded into the theater in Beni Suef, a city on the Nile river about 60 miles south of Cairo, when the fire broke out about 11:45 p.m., a police official said. It was brought under control by fire crews, but destroyed the building.

The official, who declined to be identified because he was unauthorized to speak to the media, said initial investigations indicated the fire started after lit candles being held by girls taking part in the play came into contact with theater curtains.

The blaze sparked panic in the packed audience, with hundreds stampeding from the burning theater attempting to save their lives, the official added.

The bodies of at least 29 people were taken to the main morgue in Beni Suef, with the victims dying either from burn-related injuries, suffocation or being trampled to death, the official added. At least 60 people were injured.

It was the deadliest fire in Egypt since a blaze tore through a crowded passenger train south of Cairo in February 2002, killing 370 people.

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