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8 Detained After Nightclub Fire in Turkey Kills Dozens

Reuters/Murad Sezer
Reuters/Murad Sezer

A daytime fire at a massive nightclub in central Istanbul left 29 people dead on Tuesday—a tragedy that’s led Turkish authorities to detain eight people, Reuters reported.

Among the detained are the nightclub’s management and the person responsible for the renovations, state media reported Tuesday. Al Jazeera reported that arrest warrants for five people were issued.

The fire broke out at the Masquerade nightclub in Beşiktaş, a neighborhood in the European half of the Turkish capital. The club takes up two floors underground, below a residential building that has 16 stories.

Istanbul’s mayor, Ekrem İmamoğlu, told reporters that the nightclub hadn’t obtained a permit for the renovations, suggesting those behind it may be criminally liable for Tuesday’s disaster. He added that any work would not have been visible from street level.

An exact cause for the blaze was not immediately released, but Turkish authorities said it trapped construction workers inside. CNN Turk reported that the building had only one exit, and that most inside died of smoke poisoning.

A firefighter sits down in uniform with his face blackened after fighting a fire.

A firefighter sits after working to put out a blaze inside an Instanbul nightclub.

Reuters/Rurad Sezer

Istanbul governor’s office wrote in a statement that there was at least one survivor from inside who was being treated at a hospital. Photos from the scene show the area was sealed off from the public, and clips taken by witnesses showed the flames reaching into the residential building’s third floor. Authorities announced they’d cut gas and electricity to the neighborhood surrounding the business.

The governor, Davut Gül, told reporters at the scene that the cause of the fire was under investigation and the victims were believed to be workers involved in the renovation.

The nightclub had been closed all of March for the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, Al Jazeera reported, and its owners had reportedly hired contractors to complete renovation work in time for next week’s Eid holiday, which comes after a month of fasting.

A website for the nightclub said it’d be closed from March 10 to April 10 “due to our new design renovation.” It claimed to have the capacity to hold as many as 4,000 partiers as it hosted DJ performances and stage shows weekly.

Turkey’s justice minister, Yılmaz Tunç, announced that five people were in custody by Tuesday evening, but did not identify them by name.

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