Argentina marks first anniversary club fire deaths

People in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires are marking the first anniversary of a disastrous fire in a nightclub in which 194 people were killed. The fire in the Cromagnon club has led to the arrest of its owner, the impeachment of the mayor and harsh criticism of President Nestor Kirchner. It was later discovered that four of the six emergency exits had been locked to stop people entering without paying.

The premises had not been inspected for over a year. At least 1,500 people were packed into the club on the night of 30 December 2005 to hear a popular Buenos Aires rock band.

It had played just one song when it is believed that someone in the audience let off a flare. The plastic soundproofing in the ceiling caught fire and everyone scrambled to leave. Children were later found dead in the women's toilets. They had been left there while their mothers danced.

Every month relatives of those who died hold a protest in the capital. They say their children were not killed by a firework, but by corruption. Last month they celebrated as the Mayor of Buenos Aires, Anibal Ibarra, was suspended pending an investigation into his responsibility for the disaster.

His detractors say that he oversaw a shamefully corrupt system of safety inspections across the capital. His supporters suggest a political motivation behind his removal from office, reports BBC news. I.L.

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