AP NEWS
Related topics

Sweden Dance Turns Deadly

October 30, 1998

GOTEBORG, Sweden (AP) _ Abruptly, a light went out. Then with a shout, the Halloween dance changed from delight to horror.

``Somebody yelled ’Fire!‴ said Elizabeth Moya, 17, one of an estimated 400 young people at the dance.

Teen-agers who moments before had been moving to the music surged to the doors. Others struggled to find their own ways out of a building whose exits proved insufficient.

Moya was fortunate. She made it through a door, down the stairs and outside to safety. But behind her, youths were crushed. Rescuers found 59 dead at the scene and eight others died later.

Christian Czari, 15, stood outside the charred brick building this morning, amid lit candles, bouquets of flowers and dazed family and friends of the victims

``Everybody panicked,″ he said. ``Nobody cared about the girls. The strongest made way first. Kids were fighting each other to get out.″

The fire started shortly before midnight. The first fire truck arrived in minutes, but too late to stop the worst of the tragedy.

Bojan Jovanich, a high school student, said it was the disc jockey who yelled ``Fire!″ just before he jumped out a second-story window.

``We couldn’t see much because the lights had gone out,″ he said. ``Then we saw the flames.″

Some boys bent back the metal grill on a window, tied a long curtain and apparently intended to slide down. They gave up and jumped, Jovanich said. Others caught fire _ their hair, their clothes.

``It was a terrible sight,″ he said. ``Thank good God I’m alive.″

The disc jockey, 17-year-old Zuhir Hersi, survived his jump out the window but suffered cuts and burns when he plunged back into the building to try to save people.

``I lost a lot of friends,″ he said from a hospital bed this afternoon.

Czari and others tried to carry or drag injured companions to a nearby car rental shop that served as a first aid center. He gave up because the bodies were ``sticky″ with blood and burns. ``The skin wasn’t there any more.″

A young woman with tears in her eyes waited for news about survivors at a Lutheran Church converted to a crisis center in a suburb of Goteborg. She said her foster brother was missing. She appeared calm, but said she wasn’t.

``There’s chaos inside of me,″ she said.

AP RADIO
Update hourly