On October 29, 1998 in a dance hall in Goteborg, Sweden a fire erupts during a Halloween party where 400 people, between the ages of 12 and 20 are in attendance. The maximum capacity of the building is 150. Initial reports show that 60 of those in attendance died and 190 additional people are seriously injured. Later revised reports stated that 62 had died and 162 were injured**. Most of the teenagers are refugees from war-torn countries. Officials said the dead and injured were of 19 nationalities, including Somalis, Ethiopians, Iraqis, Iranians and Swedes, as well as people from the current and former Yugoslavia and unspecified Latin American countries.
As of Friday, October 30, many of the dead had not been identified because they were not physically distinguishable and many of them either had no identification or false identification.
The explosive speed with which the fire spread led officials to suspect arson, but it was later determined that the source of the fire was a short circuit.
Help too Late?
Per-Olof Ortarsen of Goteborg's emergency services line said the call was so hard to understand that it took three minutes for workers to figure out what was going on and where to send fire trucks.
The first fire trucks and rescue squads were on the scene six minutes after the call was received, Ortarsen said at a news conference. He and other officials declined to comment on whether a quicker response could have saved any of the mostly immigrant victims.
The minutes of delay felt endless to those caught in the terror of the fire and survivors have spoken angrily of what they saw as a slow and even obstructive response.
'No help. No police. No firemen,' 17-year-old Zuhir Hersi, one of the disc jockeys at the bash, said Friday, hours after the blaze exploded. ''Just kids helping kids.''
And once the squads arrived, the kids were blocked from helping, they say.
''We could have saved more young people if only police hadn't stopped us,'' Mohanned Hussein was quoted as saying by the newspaper Expressen.
|**Note: The death and injured toll varies from article to article. These figures are from one. Links to other articles are at the end of this page.|