It was 20 years ago today….that one of the worst night club fires in history swept through the Ozone disco in Quezon City in the Philippines, killing at least 162 people (the site is pictured above). At the time there were 390, mainly students, inside premises that were licensed to hold only 35.
Just after midnight, survivors reported seeing sparks in the disc jockey’s booth, followed by smoke, which they thought at the time was part of the act. Within minutes, though, the building was engulfed in flames and part of it collapsed.
The president and treasurer of the company that operated the disco were imprisoned for providing inadequate fire exits and other fire precautions. In 2014 seven city officials were convicted over irregularities in the way safety permits had been issued.
The world’s deadliest ever nightclub fire happened at Cocoanut Grove in Boston on 28 November 1942, when 490 died. There too fire exits were inadequate, with the fire brigade saying 300 lives could have been saved if they had simply opened outwards instead of inwards. For the full story, see A Disastrous History of the World.