At least 29 dead in Istanbul nightclub fire

Construction was being done in the basement where the fire originated. Most of the people killed were workers.

At least 29 people were killed Tuesday in a fire in the basement of a residential building in Istanbul, where work was underway on a nightclub. The fire broke out in the middle of the day, according to the governor of Turkey's economic capital, leaving black stains on the first four floors of the 16-story building, which has now been evacuated.

Earlier in the evening, the governor's office announced the end of the search for possible additional victims in the rubble. "I lost four friends," Fikret Kaya, a man in his 40s who came to the scene along with the victims' grieving relatives, told AFP.

The entrance of the nightclub still has a strong smell of smoke. Many officers were dispatched to the area. According to initial reports from the governor, Davut Gül, the fire started while workers were doing construction on a nightclub located in the basement of the building. All the workers on the scene were killed, he added.

Closed during Ramadan

"The club was closed during Ramadan," explained a 46-year-old local resident, Erkan Karakoç. Numerous emergency services were sent out and about 20 ambulances and fire trucks were still parked along the street, blocking off traffic and pedestrians.

At the entrance, a short distance from the building, three firefighters, with their faces and their equipment stained with soot, were seated while another passed by with a blank stare, helmet in hand. According to the latest tallies, one person was injured, in addition to the deceased. That person is hospitalized in serious condition.

According to the governor, eight people were arrested, including the boss and manager of the nightclub, as well as the head of the metal company responsible for the construction project. "An investigation has been opened following the fire in Gayrettepe in Istanbul's Besiktas district," Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya announced on X.


Throughout the afternoon, the number of casualties continued to rise and most of the 12 people initially announced as seriously injured died despite having been taken to hospital.

The Masquerade Club, an establishment next to the Gayrettepe neighborhood in the central Besiktas district, has several stages and regularly hosts live concerts. It received its license in 1987 and it was renewed in 2018, Governor Davut Gül said.

According to Gül, "the club was well maintained and had been renovated." However, local media questioned whether things were up to code and said the establishment. which could hold between 1,500 and 2,000 people, had no emergency exit even though it was in the basement.

In addition, its support columns had been removed, making it particularly vulnerable in the event of an earthquake, according to the media. Istanbul mayor-elect Ekrem Imamoglu, who visited the site, confirmed that "the fire has been contained" and offered his "condolences" to the families of the victims.