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1 Jan, 2010 09:26

Death toll from Russia’s deadly nightclub inferno climbs even higher

The death toll from last Friday's nightclub fire in the Russian city of Perm has risen to 154 people. The number of victims could climb further, as doctors are still treating about 90 people.

The injured remain in the hospitals of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Chelyabinsk and Perm. More than 30 of them are in critical condition and almost 50 are in serious condition.

A specialist in burn injuries told the Ria Novosti news agency that the main thing for victims is surviving this week; only after that can cautious forecasts be made. And unfortunately, a possibility remains that complications may kill many of those who keep fighting for their lives.

A state fire inspector personally responsible for the tragedy that occurred in the Lame Horse night club has been identified, according to the Perm region Prosecutor’s Office, RIA Novosti news agency said on Sunday.

“In January 2007, Dmitry Roslyakov – the state fire inspector of Leninsky district in the Perm region – performed a formal inspection of the Lame Horse nightclub,” the Prosecutor’s Office informed. “In particular, the inspector did not examine the club’s engineering documentations, nor did he question the legitimacy of reconstructions, including the closing of window embrasures.” Unprofessional conduct and a poor inspection led to the exploitation of the building with multiple violations, which subsequently led to massive casualties in the fire on December 5.

All the data on the case has been sent by Perm Prosecutor General’s office to the Investigating Committee. If charged with negligence of official duties leading to the death of two or more people, Roslyakov may face up to seven years in prison.

Meanwhile, on Friday a Perm court ordered to jail the Chief State Fire Inspector for the region, Vladimir Mukhutdinov, according to Vladimir Markin, spokesman for the Investigations Committee of the Prosecutor General's Office. Mukhutdinov has been charged with negligence and faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.

A special commission set up by Russia’s Prosecutor General’s office has arrived in Perm to check how local public places comply with fire regulations.

And in Moscow, at least ten night clubs might be closed as a result of safety inspections prompted by last week's fire tragedy in Perm.

A major inspection of all medical facilities has also been launched under the personal supervision of Russia’s Health Minister, Tatyana Golikova.

The deadly blaze engulfed the “Lame Horse” nightclub after an indoor fireworks display set the ceiling on fire.

The government of the Perm region resigned following the incident, with a new one expected to be formed after the probe is completed.

The Russian Prosecutor General says there were “outrageous fire safety violations” leading to the tragedy.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has lambasted officials for what had happened.

"The fire in Perm was the result of irresponsible behaviour. All the shortcomings of our bureaucracy were evident there: our officials' incompetence, corruption and illegal ties with business," Vladimir Putin said. "A Tragedy like the one in Perm could have happened in any Russian city. To eliminate this threat, we must make systematic decisions, analyse our legislation and change it if necessary."

December 7 has been marked the national day of mourning for those killed in the tragedy.