At least 17 people have died and eight others injured in a fire that engulfed an upmarket nightclub in Cameroon’s capital Yaounde.
A government statement said the fire erupted at the Livs Nightclub in the capital’s Bastos neighbourhood, setting off a series of explosions on Saturday.
The explosions went off once the blaze spread to a place where cooking gas was being stored, workers said.
“The tragedy, which was caused by explosions from the fireworks often used in these places, first consumed the building’s ceiling, resulting in two very loud explosions, causing panic and a stampede,” the ministry said.
The government said in addition to the deaths, others were seriously injured in the fire and were in intensive care in the hospital.
“We are still at the level of investigations to find out the names and nationalities of the dead and the wounded,” said government spokesman Rene Emmanuel Sadi.
There were some burnt objects out the front of the club that suggested a fire, but the building’s facade was not destroyed or charred.
People gather outside morgue
Around 100 people gathered outside the morgue of the military hospital in Yaounde’s Ekounou neighbourhood, hoping to find out news of relatives.
“I don’t have any information. I woke up this morning and they told me that my 38-year-old son is dead,” said one woman, who gave her name as Fidele.
“I’ve lost my little brother,” said Stephane Hamza, 38.
In Douala, the economic capital in the south of the country, at least five discos have been partially or completely burned down in accidental fires over the past six years.
The tragedy comes as the country hosts thousands of soccer players, fans and match officials from across the continent for the month-long African Football Cup of Nations tournament.
In a statement, Cameroonian President Paul Biya called for calm and assured players and fans of their safety.