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At least 29 killed in huge fire south of Cairo
6/9/2005 17:15

At least 29 people were killed and dozens injured in a huge fire engulfing a theater in Beni Suef, about 100 km south of Cairo, Monday night, the al-Jazeera TV channel reported.
About 1,000 people were in the theater at the time of the fire and the death toll might rise because the blaze sparked panic among people trying to get out.
The blaze, which lasted for about two hours from 10:45 p.m. (1945 GMT), was brought under control. Up to 70 people escaped unscathed, the official MENA news agency reported.
According to witnesses, a candle being carried by actors fell onto a carpet to start the fire in the Culture Palace, an auditorium where viewers were watching the Shakespeare play "Hamlet" during the theater festival being held in the town of 200,000 people.
Opened on Saturday, the nine-day cultural event was designed to feature plays performed by troupes from around Egypt.
The fire, which occurred on the third day of the festival, soon set ablaze the entire one-story building with many of the theater goers failing to evacuate in time because it had only one emergency exit.
"People rushed to the exit ... but the fire spread very rapidly," Adel Hassan told the media after taken to the local hospital for treatment for burns.
"The room became engulfed in flames ... like an ocean spreading across the theater," said another survivor Mohammed el-Amrousi.
The Beni Suef hospital reported that the bodies of 29 people had been brought to its morgue while 37 injured were receiving treatment in the hospital.
The local authorities told reporters that the flame was contained an hour later and that an immediate investigation had been ordered.
officials also indicated that Egyptian Health Minister Mohamed Awad Tag Eddin would arrive for an inspection Tuesday.
It was the second deadliest blaze in the country, where more than 350 people were killed on Feb. 20, 2002 by a fire on a passenger train also south of Cairo.

Xinhua News