12 killed in blaze at Indonesian karaoke bar

MANADO (Indonesia) • Twelve people were killed and dozens injured after a fire broke out in a crowded karaoke bar in a city on Sulawesi island, police said yesterday.

The blaze was sparked by a short circuit on the second floor of the popular three-storey Inul Vizta club in Manado, the provincial capital of North Sulawesi, after midnight, causing panic among clients singing in private rooms, provincial police spokesman Wilson Damanik told Agence France-Presse.

"The fire filled the rooms and corridors with thick black smoke, and people started panicking and running helter-skelter in the dark," he said. "Some inhaled the smoke while others tried to escape by jumping out of the windows onto the street."

"So far, 12 people have died, mostly from smoke inhalation," he said, adding that the victims found were Indonesians.

He said "dozens" were injured, but Indonesian Red Cross official Mahmud Paputungan estimated the number of people injured at 70.

Workers were unable to put out the blaze with fire extinguishers, and many complained that fire engines took an hour to arrive, according to the Guardian. Firefighters took several hours to extinguish the blaze.

Victims were evacuated to nearby hospitals early yesterday.

Investigations into what caused the fire were ongoing, Mr Damanik said.

"So far, we have found there was no emergency staircase - only one common staircase to access every floor," he said. "That could be why it was difficult for people to get out quickly. But all these (matters) are still being investigated."

Yesterday evening, the police were still checking the soot-blackened premises for more possible victims, as curious onlookers gathered.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2015, with the headline '12 killed in blaze at Indonesian karaoke bar'. Print Edition | Subscribe