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At least 17 dead in nightclub fire, explosions in Cameroon's capital

A fire erupted at a popular nightclub in the Cameroon capital of Yaoundé, setting off explosions and killing at least 17 people, government officials said Sunday.

Blaze set off explosions in country hosting Africa Cup of Nations soccer tournament

Police officers and officials stand outside Livs Night Club in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, on Sunday after a deadly fire erupted at the venue, killing at least 17 people. (Themba Hadebe/The Associated Press)

A fire erupted at a popular nightclub in the Cameroon capital of Yaoundé, setting off explosions and killing at least 17 people, government officials said Sunday.

The tragedy comes as the central African country hosts thousands of soccer players, fans and officials from across the continent for the month-long Africa Cup of Nations soccer tournament.

A government statement said the fire erupted at the Livs Night Club, in the capital's Bastos neighbourhood, early Sunday, setting off a series of explosions.

Workers said it was a short-circuit that customers initially thought was a fireworks show. The explosions went off once the blaze spread to a place where cooking gas was being stored, causing panic, the workers said.

The government said in addition to the deaths, others were seriously injured in the fire and were in intensive care in the hospital.

"We are still at the level of investigations to find out the names and nationalities of the dead and the wounded," government spokesperson Rene Emmanuel Sadi said.

President calls for calm

In a statement, Cameroonian President Paul Biya called for calm and assured players and fans of their safety.

The Cameroon team will play a round of 16 knockout game against Comoros in Yaoundé on Monday.

The Africa Cup, which features teams from 24 countries, began on Jan. 9. It is the continent's biggest soccer tournament, and Cameroon is hosting for the first time in 50 years. It was originally scheduled for 2021 but was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Yaoundé, the main host city, will stage another six games, including the final on Feb. 6.

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