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Bulgaria Mourns Disco Victims

December 22, 2001

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SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) _ Mourning relatives and friends of seven teen-agers and children killed in a stampede outside a disco left flowers and lighted candles Saturday near the icy stairs where they died.

Some of those waiting in line to enter the disco Friday evening slipped on the slick, winding stairs leading up to the club’s entrance and were trampled as the crowd behind continued to push forward.

Six girls and one boy, ranging in age from 12 to 18, died. Four were seriously injured and dozens suffered lighter injuries.

Nadezhda Gavrilova, an official of Sofia’s emergency hospital, said 13 youngsters remained in intensive care Saturday.

``All of them, including the four who were in a critical condition, are conscious now and their conditions are improving,″ she said.

Most youngsters are so shocked that they can’t recall exactly what happened, Gavrilova added.

Outside the club, crying people were hugging each other Saturday. Many lighted candles and stuck them in the snow, or left flowers.

Iglika Georgieva, a mother of a teen-ager, laid white carnations next to the stairs.

``My daughter was lucky. She has the flu and remained home, but I’m here because this could had happened to her,″ she said.

Friday was the last day of the school term, and about 3,000 teen-agers and children had hoped to celebrate at the Indigo’s popular ``daytime disco,″ which caters to a young audience and closes at 10 p.m. The club holds up to 4,000 people.

Police on Saturday detained and questioned the club owner, Angel Nikolov.

The government declared Sunday an official day of mourning, and the mayor of Sofia canceled all pre-Christmas celebrations in the capital.

Sofia’s main Orthodox church, the Alexander Nevski cathedral, was crowded with people during a memorial service for the victims Saturday. In parliament, lawmakers opened Saturday’s session with a minute of silence for the victims.

``Bulgaria is shattered by the tragic events. Every death brings pain, but when it comes to children there are no words to express this pain,″ parliamentary speaker Ognyan Gerdzhikov said.

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