Fire at club under renovation in Istanbul kills at least 29


ISTANBUL — A fire engulfed a popular Istanbul nightclub Tuesday during renovations, trapping workers and employees inside and killing at least 29 people, officials and reports said. Several people, including managers of the club, were detained for questioning.

One person was being treated at a hospital with serious injuries, the Istanbul governor’s office said in a statement.

The Masquerade nightclub, which was closed for renovations, was 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 fire reached the third floor of the building before it was extinguished, video footage of the blaze showed.

Gov. Davut Gul told reporters at the scene that the cause of the fire was under investigation and that the victims were believed to be people involved in the renovation work. The private DHA news agency identified one of the victims as a nightclub employee.

Video from the scene showed flames billowing from the side of the building, firefighters dousing an entrance to the club and others carrying a victim on a stretcher toward an ambulance. Several firefighting trucks were called to the scene.

Private NTV said some of the victims died in hospital after being pulled out of the blaze.

Authorities detained eight people for questioning, including managers of the club and one person in charge of the renovations, Gul’s office said. A club official could not be reached for comment.

The government appointed three prosecutors and several investigators to investigate the case.

The nightclub – which had a capacity to host up to 4,000 guests, according to its website – was closed for the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. Its owners were trying to complete the renovation work in time for next week’s Eid holiday, which follows the month of fasting.

“See you on April 10,” the club said in a message posted on its website.

Police sealed off the area while power and natural gas to the neighborhood were cut off as a safety precaution. Residents were safely evacuated from the building.

Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, who was re-elected in local elections on Sunday, said authorities were inspecting the entire building to assess its safety.

The nightclub had not obtained the necessary permit to undertake construction and renovations, the mayor said.