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Dutch Fire Death Toll to 10

January 3, 2001

VOLENDAM, Netherlands (AP) _ A 13-year-old girl died Wednesday, bringing to 10 the number of people killed in a New Year’s fire in a Dutch discotheque filled with teen-agers.

Officials said the dead girl was Sharon Sombroek, one of seven male and three female victims killed by a fire just after midnight in Volendam, fishing village a few miles outside Amsterdam.

City officials fear the death toll could rise further, saying 90 people were still in hospital with severe burns and smoke inhalation, including 16 in critical condition. Funerals for the victims were set for Friday and the weekend.

The blaze in the Little Heaven discotheque on the top floor of a three-story wooden house on the harbor erupted at half an hour after midnight Monday.

Overhead Christmas decorations caught fire, raining blazing pine branches on the dancers and filling the crowded hall with thick smoke.

The Dutch government said it would seek stiffer fire safety rules for festive clothing after the fire. Doctors have said that the flammability of party clothing exacerbated the injuries. Flimsy synthetic dresses and evening gowns melted onto the skins of the young revelers, leaving scald wounds spanning entire bodies.

Health Ministry spokesman Benno Bruggink said the government wants to firm up a 1997 industry agreement in the Netherlands that sets fire safety standards, mostly for children’s pajamas and costumes.

``We are inviting the textile sector to consult with us on expanding the rules″ to cover fashion clothing and include penalties for noncompliance, Bruggink said.

European countries do not have binding standards for fire resistance as in the United States, he said.

A wake for the dead was held Tuesday night at the Church of Mary in this predominantly Roman Catholic town of 18,000 inhabitants on the shore of the inland IJsselmeer.

Queen Beatrix spent hours with victims Tuesday afternoon at the Amsterdam University Medical Center, where 11 youngsters were clinging to life in the intensive care ward.

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