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Nightclub fire kills 25 in Peru

Peruvian firemen carry a victim out of the smoke-filled Utopia club early Saturday.
Peruvian firemen carry a victim out of the smoke-filled Utopia club early Saturday.  

LIMA, Peru (CNN) -- At least 25 people died early Saturday when a fire swept through a dance club that authorities said had no sprinklers and poorly marked exits.

The Utopia club was celebrating two months of operation Friday with a zoo-theme night that included a caged lion and tiger, both of which also died.

After a fire-related act was performed near the disc jockey's booth shortly after 2 a.m., flames were seen reaching the ceiling, witnesses said.

Many inside the four-story club thought the fire was part of the act, and applauded and cheered as flames licked the ceiling.

When it became apparent the fire had gotten out of hand, club patrons tried without success to douse it by throwing their drinks at it, witnesses said.

Correspondent Claudia Cisneros reports on the deadly fire that left at least 24 dead in a Lima nightclub (July 20)

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Within less than a minute, the lights went out and dense smoke filled the club. Many of about 1,000 patrons fell on top of one another as they stampeded toward the emergency exits, they said.

Lima District Mayor Carlos Dargent said Utopia was not licensed to operate and had no sprinklers. Fire Commander Julio Nicolini said three of the club's emergency exits weren't properly marked.

Dense smoke initially prevented firefighters from entering the building. The firefighters brought the blaze under control in about an hour after drilling a hole in the roof to allow smoke to escape.

Lima hospital sources said dozens of people were injured.




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