Six Killed In Nightclub Fire

Serbian authorities investigating an April 1 nightclub fire that killed six have detained the venue owner and two others.

An electrical fault is believed to have caused the blaze at the Contrast club in Novi Sad, the country’s second city and home to the award-winning Exit Festival.

Investigative judge Ana Stamenic told Reuters news agency that prosecutors were considering charges of “causing general danger.”

Photo: AP Photo
Firefighters stand in front of the nightclub Contrast in Novi Sad, Serbia.

Police spokeswoman Mileva Tomic declined to give the names of those being held.

Local newswires are reporting that 350 people were inside the club when the fire broke out.

Novi Sad Mayor Igor Pavlicic, who declared three days of mourning starting April 2, said the club had been regularly checked for safety compliance and had recently carried out a fire drill.

“This is a great tragedy,” he said. “The wounds of past tragedies in Novi Sad have yet to heal, and now we have another.”

In 2007, three people died in a hotel fire in the city and a year earlier a cafe fire left eight dead.

Police officials have said the victims at Contrast died from smoke inhalation while trying to flee the blaze that broke out around the stage area during a performance and quickly spread.

“One of them was just half a metre from an exit,” said senior police official Predrag Maric, head of the Interior Ministry’s emergencies department. “There must have been huge panic, they all rushed to get out.”

Stamenic said all the victims have been identified but so far has not released their names.

Photo: AP Photo
A firefighter inspects the nightclub Contrast in Novi Sad, Serbia.

Officials had initially said they were teenagers, although it now appears they were three men and three women, aged 21 to 29 years old.

Two more people were injured, but their lives are not in danger, doctors said.