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First Sweden Fire Victims Buried

November 4, 1998

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) _ Nine of the 63 young people who died in a Swedish dance hall fire were buried together in a ceremony that attracted thousands of mourners Wednesday.

In a Muslim burial ground in a suburb of Goteborg, 300 miles southwest of Stockholm, the nine white coffins lay on stands side-by-side in front of an enormous crowd that had gathered in gray, near-freezing weather.

Most of the estimated 400 people at the dance last Thursday were immigrants or of immigrant parents, primarily Muslims.

A spokesman for the national association of Iranian immigrants, Saied Taghavi, said they had decided to conduct their own investigation of the fire.

``We don’t want to declare that we don’t trust in the authorities,″ he said. ``But the experiences of the Estonia and the murder of Palme show that this is needed.″

The investigation of the killing of Prime Minister Olof Palme 12 years ago has been widely criticized _ a man was convicted of the killing but that was overturned for insufficient evidence _ and there has been wide dissatisfaction with the three-nation commission that investigated the 1994 sinking of the ferry Estonia, in which 852 people died.

Police have not determined the cause of the fire that raged through the second-floor dance hall. Dissatisfaction with the investigation grew Tuesday after investigators found a body that had laid in the charred ruins for five days, undetected as searchers and even Prime Minister Goeran Persson went through the building.

Police say they still don’t know exactly where the fire began, but more signs are pointing to the emergency exit stairway, Goteborg police spokesman Bengt Staaf told a news conference Wednesday.

Many chairs and other wooden items reportedly were stored in the stairway. The fire blocked that exit, forcing the panicked dancers to either attempt to flee down the one remaining stairway or jump out of second-story windows.

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