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9 detained after 29 die in İstanbul nightclub fire

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Nine people including the owner and manager of a nightclub in İstanbul have been detained as part of an investigation into a fire that broke out at the nightclub on Tuesday, killing 29 people, the state-run Anadolu news agency and Agence France-Presse reported.

The fire, erupting during renovations at the Masquerade nightclub, which occupies two basement floors in a 16-story residential building in Beşiktaş’s Gayrettepe district, was extinguished by firefighters hours after it broke out.

Among the detainees was also the head of the metalworking company carrying out the renovations, which were not being done under permit, according to city officials.

The number of people reported killed and injured in the tragedy rose throughout Tuesday afternoon in a series of statements from the İstanbul Governor’s Office, as more victims succumbed to their injuries.

One person who was injured in the fire is still being treated for his injuries at a hospital.

İstanbul Governor Davut Gül told reporters at the scene that the cause of the fire was under investigation and that the victims were believed to be involved in the renovation work.

It was not immediately clear whether the victims died from smoke inhalation or from the flames.

The governor’s office said in a statement that it had received “no request for a permit” from the owners of the nightclub or the contractor “regarding any possible renovation of the premises.”

“No permit had been issued and no information provided,” the statement added, promising to “follow up on the case and keep the public informed.”

Mounting toll

“I’ve lost four friends,” local man Fikret Kaya told AFP as firefighters were leaving the scene, but could not say any more.

Not far from him, a woman wearing a black cap was weeping with her head in her hands.

The “Club Masquerade,” a popular Gayrettepe nightspot, regularly gave live concerts.

Its license was first issued in 1987 and renewed in 2018, governor Gül said, adding that the club was “maintained and renovated.”

But local media reported that the owners had not secured a permit for the work on the 1,500-capacity club, that it lacked emergency exits and that basement columns had been removed, leaving it vulnerable to earthquakes.

İstanbul’s newly re-elected mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, who rushed to the scene, said authorities were inspecting the entire building to assess its safety.

The nightclub was closed for the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, and its owners were trying to complete the renovation in time for next week’s Eid holiday, which follows the month of fasting, NTV reported.

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