Mexico City nightclub fire
Twenty people have been confirmed dead in a fire at one
of Mexico City's most exclusive nightclubs.
The glitzy, Lobohombo club with a large, mirrored facade,
was one of the best known nightclubs in Mexico City. Gloria
Estefan held a party there in August and salsa superstar
Willie Colon performed there.
Police said the club was full with violations including
no emergency exits. Several survivors said they were blocked
from leaving the burning building by security staff asking
them to pay their bills first.
Sara Falcon, one survivor, said she and several others
were begging to get out, saying: "Please! It's burning!
Open the door!"
"Everyone was shouting," she told TV Azteca,
wiping away tears.
"Many people were on fire, yelling and throwing themselves
on the floor. Others were yelling, 'Open the door because
people are burning!"'
Her aunt, Lorena Falcon Perez said one of her daughters-in-law
"lost her shoe running around trying to find an emergency
exit, but there wasn't one."
The guards eventually let the women leave but Perez's 16-year-old
daughter suffered third-degree burns and was in critical
condition at a local hospital.
The survivors of one of Mexico City's most popular night
clubs said they were blocked from leaving the burning building
by disco personnel who insisted they pay their bills first.
The blaze killed 20, and injured two dozen more.
The club was still packed at 5 a.m. when the blaze started
Friday. Surrounded by smoke, Sara Falcon, one survivor,
said she and others were begging to get out, saying: "Please!
It's burning! Open the door!"
"Everyone was shouting," she told TV Azteca news,
wiping away tears. "Many people were on fire, yelling
and throwing themselves on the floor. Others were yelling,
'Open the door because people are burning!"'
Witnesses said patrons panicked when smoke began filling
the disco, and began scrambling to escape out the club's
only exit. The building had no emergency exits, authorities
Falcon's aunt, Lorena Falcon Perez, said her 16-year-old
daughter was trapped in the flames, and later carried out
of the building as chunks of burning wood fell to the ground.
She suffered third-degree burns and was in critical condition
at a local hospital.
Lucia Diaz, 25, sister of Rafael Diaz, 24, a cashier at
the Lobohombo nightclub, wipes a tear while waiting for
"When the doctors told me about my daughter, I fainted,"
Falcon Perez said. "It's not right what those (owners
of the disco) did. A place that has events like this should
at least be safe."
The glitzy Lobohombo club was one of the best known nightclubs
in North America's largest city. Gloria Estefan held a party
there in August and salsa superstar Willie Colon had performed
Police said a short circuit in the sound booth may have
sparked the blaze, but firefighters said witnesses reported
hearing several explosions. The blaze was extinguished before
Hours after the tragedy, hundreds milled outside the charred
building, its mirrored facade shattered and blackened with
smoke. Its trademark, a large sign featuring the face of
a cartoon dog, was gone.
Authorities said the club had a long history of legal problems,
repeatedly clashing in court with the city.
Lobohombo was operating with a permit for a restaurant
rather than a nightclub, authorities said. Its 4,700 square
feet (423 square meters) surpassed the maximum size permitted
by law. The club had a capacity for more than 1,000 people,
but at times held up to 3,000.
Authorities shut the club down 11 times for code violations
but the owners managed to renegotiate its reopening each
time, said Dolores Padierna, a local neighborhood representative.
Earlier this year, officials ordered the club closed because
it lacked a permit for table dancing. The disco had featured
The owner secured a federal court injunction allowing it
to stay open, said local official Maria Inez Munoz.
An attorney for the club's owner, Alejandro Iglesias Rebollo,
disputed the allegations that officials had tried to close
down the club.
City officials inspected and approved the club in June,
attorney Victor Trejo Sanchez told the Radio Red network.
The Iglesias family owns more than 80 nightclubs in the
city. Authorities said many have been cited for violations.
A month ago, authorities closed their bar La Luna after
discovering drugs were being sold there. A few months before
that, police arrested a group of women for dancing naked
at one of their other bars, Hawaii.
According to the National Association of Discos and Bars,
15,000 establishments are in violation of the minimum operating
norms in Mexico. Violations range from closing long after
the set hours of operation to allowing prostitution and