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US Nightclub Fire Kills at Least 60 - 2003-02-21

At least 60 people are dead and more than 100 injured after a fire tore through a nightclub in the U.S. state of Rhode Island. The deadly blaze is the second disaster at a nightclub in the past week.

The death toll continues to rise as firefighters search the ruins of the charred nightclub in the city of West Warwick, Rhode Island.

The blaze was the deadliest fire in the United States in nearly a decade.

It began in the crowded nightclub when a pyrotechnics display during a rock concert ignited the ceiling and swiftly spread, engulfing the building within minutes.

Witnesses say thick black smoke filled the nightclub and the lights went out, making it hard to find the exits. Many of the dead, were recovered near the clubs' main exit, many badly burned or killed by smoke inhalation. Others were trampled.

Officials say that a rush to main doorway rather than three fire exits exacerbated the disaster, trapping many of the victims.

The deadly blaze comes just days after another nightclub disaster. In the city of Chicago, 21 people were killed in a stampede at a popular nightspot.