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Rouen fire: at least 13 dead in birthday disaster at bar in French city

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  • As Six Dead in Mexico as Remnants of Earl Trigger Landslides

A fire thought to have been caused by the candles on a birthday cake killed 13 people at a bar in the French city of Rouen and left at least six others injured, one critically.

Reports said the fire broke out in the basement of the Cuba Libre where the private party was being held on Friday night. At least six people were rescued and received treatment for injuries. The victims were described as being aged between 18 and 25.

Authorities were describing the fire as an accident, possibly started by candles on the birthday cake setting fire to flammable material in the ceiling. According to French media, one of the party-goers was said to have stumbled while carrying a cake with lit candles down the stairs to the lower floor. Flames spread quickly to polystyrene ceiling tiles which gave off a cloud of noxious fumes that choked victims, who were unable to escape.

“There was no explosion, but candles used for a birthday party set light to the ceiling made of polystyrene, giving off a gas that poisoned the victims,” a police official told the AFP news agency.

More than 50 firefighters battled the blaze at the bar in the city centre, said the French cabinet minister Bernard Cazeneuve, praising their quick action after they arrived at 12.50am local time.

The secretary general of the prefecture of Seine-Maritime, Yvan Cordier, went to the bar and said emergency services had “intervened very quickly”.

Yvon Robert, the mayor of Rouen, also attended, describing the fire as “the greatest catastrophe”.

Lawrence Labadie, local deputy prosecutor, told Paris-Normandie that the fire appeared to be an accident and residents who thought there was a blast had probably heard glass exploding.

Cazeneuve, France’s minister of the interior, said a judicial inquiry was under way into the cause.

Authorities appeared to set aside the possibility of terrorism.

The deaths came as Rouen mourned the terrorist murder of Father Jacques Hamel who was killed while saying mass in his church at nearby Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray by two terrorists on 26 July. Thousands of mourners turned out for the priest’s funeral at Rouen Cathedral on Tuesday.

The country remains under a state of emergency following Hamel’s murder, the Bastille Day attack in Nice and the Paris attacks.

In the meantime, six people died in eastern Mexico on Saturday after they were buried in landslides caused by intense rainfall from the remnants of now-downgraded Tropical Storm Earl, an emergency services official said.

The six deaths involved two separate families in eastern Veracruz state, emergency services spokesman Manuel Escalera said.

He added that local authorities were continuing to monitor rising rivers and saturated soil that could trigger additional landslides.

Earl’s maximum wind speed dropped to 30 mph (48 kmh) by Saturday afternoon, according to the Miami-based National Hurricane Center.

It was located approximately 105 miles (169 km) east of Mexico City, after pounding portions of Central America and crossing Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula over the past couple days.

Forecasters were still warning that the storm could produce dangerous flash floods and mudslides with rainfall up to 18 inches in some areas in the Mexican states of Guerrero, Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Puebla, Tlaxcula and Veracruz.

The Mexican government discontinued the tropical storm warning and there were no coastal warnings or watches in effect.

Before crossing into Mexico, Earl battered Belize, smashing car windows and punching holes in the roofs of Belize City’s wooden houses. It also downed trees and flooded parts of the coast.

Guardian with additional report from NBC

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Accidents

Tanker Tyre Explosion Sparks Chaos In Surulere

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Tanker Tyre Explosion Sparks Chaos In Surulere

 Pandemonium engulfed Ekololu, a community in the Surulere area of Lagos, on Monday night when the back tyres of a tanker transporting fuel to a Conoil filling station burst into flames near the station.

The News Correspondent who resides in the area reports that the explosion of the tyres and the ensuing billows of smoke made residents living near the filling station flee for safety.

Observations by the newsmen revealed that staff from the filling station hurried out with fire extinguishers to combat the fire, which erupted around 9:00 p.m., just a few meters from the station’s entrance.

Emergency responders, including Federal and State Fire Services, as well as the Lagos State Emergency Management Authority (LASEMA), swiftly arrived at the scene following distress calls from the community.

The ill-fated tanker that caused the pandemonium

Upon arrival, the emergency teams assessed the unregistered truck carrying the petrol and raised concerns about safety measures while questioning the driver and filling station management.

They provided guidance and oversaw the safe discharge of the fuel using a long hose to transfer the petroleum product from the stranded tanker into the filling station’s reservoirs.

The Station Manager of the Conoil filling station, Mr Kunle Oniya, informed the emergency responders that the station possessed 20 fire extinguishers, which were promptly utilised to contain the fire and prevent its spread.

The incident led to a traffic gridlock, with vehicles unable to move in the area for nearly an hour.

Some residents shared their experiences of the ordeal with the newsmen.

A resident, Malam Shehu, recounted abandoning his dinner upon witnessing the fiery explosion.

He expressed gratitude that the fire was contained before causing further damage.

Another resident, known as Iya Abigail, described hearing people shouting while she was playing games, prompting her to flee in confusion wearing her nightclothes.

She prayed for continued safety in the community.

An elderly resident, who preferred anonymity, urged filling stations in the area to prioritise safety and the welfare of residents.

She noted that filling stations typically had insurance against fire and other disasters and suggested extending such coverage to vulnerable buildings in their host communities.

Recalling the chaotic events, she said that she heard the sound of an emergency whistle to alert the neighbourhood before hastily evacuating her home.

“I was watching TV and when the incident occurred, I had to blow the emergency whistle to alert the neighbourhood but I quickly dressed up before running out of the house,” she said. 

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Overspeeding Claims 7 Lives In Ibadan- Iseyin Road Crash- FRSC

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Overspeeding Claims 7 Lives In Ibadan- Iseyin Road Crash- FRSC

…As 15 people sustain varying degrees of injuries

Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has confirmed the death of seven persons in a road accident that occurred on Ibadan-Iseyin road on Thursday.

The Public Relations Officer, FRSC, Oyo Sector Command, Mr Mayowa Odewo, said in a statement that the deceased were five male adults, one female adult and one female child.

Odewo said that 15 people also sustained varying degrees of injuries out of the 22 people involved in the crash.

He attributed the accident, involving a Nissan Urvan commercial bus, with registration number: SEY 254 ZY and a Mazda commercial bus, with registration number LGB 343 XA, to speed violations and fatigue.

Odewo stated that the 13 injured victims, including three male adults, nine female adults and one female child, had been taken to a nearby hospital for medical attention.

He said that four of the seven corpses of the victims had been claimed by their families, while the remaining three had been deposited at a morgue.

“The police from Motor Traffic Division (MTD) Police Division, Moniya, Ibadan, have taken possession of the two crashed vehicles, including bags and other valuables recovered from the scene,” he said.

The FRSC spokesperson noted that no victim was saved by the seat belt or other defensive gadgets.

He urged motorists to always obey traffic rules and regulations as well as adhere to all traffic cautions on the road to prevent avoidable crashes. 

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Accidents

Man Dies After Falling Off Cruise Ship in Australia

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Man Dies After Falling Off Cruise Ship in Australia

Australian police had found a man’s body off Sydney’s coast while searching for a cruise ship passenger who went overboard on Monday.
The man fell overboard before dawn near Sydney Heads, about 18 kilometers from the shore, with police and other emergency services launching a search, New South Wales police said.

At about 10.30 a.m. (0030 GMT), officers located the body and retrieved it, police said.

Police would now prepare a report for the Coroner and have launched an investigation into how the incident unfolded.

P&O Cruises’ ship Pacific Adventure was due to arrive in Sydney Harbour on Monday.

“We thank guests for their care, understanding, and patience on what’s been a distressing day for guests and crew,’’
a statement from the company said, as quoted by local media.

“Our thoughts are with the family of the guest at this difficult time.’’

The ship was returning to Sydney from a three-day trip to Queensland’s Morton Island.

– dpa

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