Cause of deadly Istanbul nightclub fire suggested by authorities

Firefighters and emergency teams work in the aftermath of a fire that broke out during day time in a nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey, Tuesday, April 2, 2024
Firefighters and emergency teams work in the aftermath of a fire that broke out during day time in a nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey, Tuesday, April 2, 2024 Copyright Khalil Hamra/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Khalil Hamra/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews with AP
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Local media reported parts of the under-renovation club were like a “labyrinth,” making it difficult for the victims to escape the blaze.

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A fire that spread through an Istanbul nightclub during renovations was likely caused by welding sparks igniting combustible material. 

That's according to local media in Turkey, citing fire department officials. 

The fire engulfed the popular Masquerade nightclub on Tuesday, trapping workers and club employees inside. 

Twenty-nine people were killed by the flames and another person was left with serious injuries.

Authorities have detained nine people for questioning, including club managers and people in charge of the renovation work.

The club had been closed for renovations during the holy month of Ramadan and owners planned to reopen on 10 April.

A probe has been launched into the cause of the fire by government-assigned prosecutors and investigators.

The club is located on the ground and basement floors of a 16-story residential building in the Besiktas district on the European side of the city bisected by the Bosphorus Strait.

The Yeni Safak newspaper, which is close to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government, said sparks from a welding machine used to install sound insulation and decoration material may have caused the fire.

It reportedly set off an explosion which in turn set other construction material ablaze.

The newspaper cited unidentified fire department officials in its report. The Sabah newspaper published a similar report. 

Officials have not publicly commented on the fire's cause.

Two women gather as firefighters and emergency teams work in the aftermath of a fire in a nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey, Tuesday, April 2, 2024
Two women gather as firefighters and emergency teams work in the aftermath of a fire in a nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey, Tuesday, April 2, 2024Khalil Hamra/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved

HaberTurk television reported that the area where the renovation work was taking place was like a “labyrinth,” making it difficult for the victims to escape. 

The victims included Gokhan Tevlek, a club DJ, Atanur Aladag, who was employed as a cook, and Akin and Yilmaz Kihri, a father-and-son team of welders, according to Turkish media reports.

Video from the scene showed flames billowing from the side of the building, firefighters dousing an entrance to the club and people carrying a victim on a stretcher toward an ambulance.

“After the fire brigade arrived, bodies started to come out of the nightclub,” state-run Anadolu quoted witness Sema Soganci as saying. “People were screaming, everything happened so suddenly. The flames were like crazy.”

“I started to cry, I was nervous,” she said.

Another witness, Mehmet Cengiz, told Anadolu: “We saw firefighters entering and coming out all blackened.”

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The nightclub had a capacity of 4000 guests, according to its website. 

The manager of the residential building said the premise was originally designed as a cinema.

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu said the club had not obtained the required permits to conduct renovations.

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