A fire engulfed an upmarket nightclub in Cameroon’s capital Yaounde in the early hours of Sunday, killing at least 16 people and injuring eight others, the government said.
“The incident was caused by the explosion of fireworks usually used in the nightclub,” said the government, adding that this had caused a fire to break out on the ceiling, leading to further explosions and panic in the venue.
The fire started at about 2.30 a.m. (0130 GMT), according to the government statement, which said authorities had launched an investigation.
The nightclub is located in Bastos considered one of the city’s most prestigious neighbourhoods. Videos on social media showed burnt bodies lying on the ground and other victims being rushed to the hospital.
Though the cause of the incident remains unknown, narratives hold that the outbreak could be linked to gas leakage from an air conditioner in the facility.
Fireworks from the popping of a champaign in the nightclub are reported to have turned into flames as it mixed with gas from inside the nightclub. The nightclub’s management is is yet to make any statement.
Cameroon’s Territorial Administration Minister, Paul Atanga Nji, Communication Minister, Rene Emmanuel Sadi, Gendarmerie boss, Yves Galax Landry Etoga and the Governor of the country’s Centre region, Paul Naseri Bea have so far visited the scene.
However, the exact number of victims, their identities and the amount of damage recorded remains unknown. But Cameroon’s Communication Minister, Rene Emmanuel Sadi later issued a statement putting the number of those who perished in the incident at 16.
The incident has again raised concerns over safety measures in relaxation spots and government’s efforts in enforcing them.