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Indonesian karaoke fire kills 17

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Seventeen people have been killed in a fire in a packed karaoke bar on Indonesia’s Sulawesi island.

Witnesses told authorities the fire started early on Sunday on the second floor of the three-storey building as hundreds of people were singing in private rooms at the Inul Vizta Karaoke club in downtown Manado, the capital of North Sulawesi province.

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Police say 71 people were hospitalised for smoke inhalation.

Many complained that fire engines arriving late, about an hour later. It took firefighters several hours to bring the blaze under control.

“We are still investigating the cause of fire,” city police chief Colonel Rio Permana, but a preliminary investigation indicated a short circuit.

He said some panicked people smashed windows and fled into the street while many others were stuck in choking black smoke billowing from the second floor as there was only one access door to the building.

All 17 people who died were Indonesians. Most died from smoke inhalation injuries rather than burns, Permana said.

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