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MEXICAN THEATRE FIRE.

DETAILS OF AiPPAMJNG CATASTROPHE.

An appalling disaster, which has practically exterminated some of 'the wealthiest and most prominent families In the Mexican State of Guerrero, occurred on Sunday night, February 14, at Acapulco, the principal town of <the province. During a gala performance the Flores Theatre suddenly caught fire, and over 300 people out of an audience of between 800 and 800 .were burned er crushed to death in the space of a few minutes. For Acapulco, which is a seaport about 200 miles from Mexico City, and possesses some 7000 inhabitants, the p/rformance at the Flores Theatre was a most important social event. It was given in honour of Senor Damian Flores, the newly-elected Governor of the .State, and with him were present li the audience most of the State and municipal officials, and the principal families of Guerrero, including 400 ladies. The theatre, a huge, flimsy, wooden structure, with only three narrow exits, one of these being at 'the back of the stage, was profusely hung with t-unting and decorations In honour of the Governor's visit. These hangings, it Is considered, greatly contributed to the rapidity with which the flames enveloped the building wlien the flre broke out. A play, which formed the first portion of the evening's entertainment, had been satisfactorily concluded, and then the audience settled down to witness a cinematograph display. .Suddenly, as a bull-flght was being shown on the screen, there was a sharp explosion. The cinematograph films caught flre, and a great burst of flame at once enveloped the machine and the flimsy materials surrounding it. Several men sprang forward to attempt to extinguish the flames, and in so doing knocked over the stand, thus spreading the flre, which -hi thfc space of a few moments had involved the lower floor, and had run up the hangings and along the galleries. Audience an.; officials alike seem to have lost their beads, and made a wild stampede for the , narrow doors, fighting like wild beasts with each other in their efforts to reach safety. Those behind forced down those in front, so that the exits were quickly piled up with writhing bodies, shutting off the screaming multitude Denind with a barrier of dead and dying. One or two people managed to escape from the stage entrance, some jumped from the windows of the buiidlng, only to be killed at once by the fall or to suffer terrible injuries; but after the persons nearest the doors had managed to get out there was practically no escape for any others. Within a few minutes the theatre was one great furnace. There was a prolbngea and terrific shriek, swelled by mnny voices for help, and then, ao mercifully quick was the work Of destruction, within a few more minutes all was quiet agali., except for the sobbing and groaning people outside who witnessed the tragedy, and for the roa* of the flames as they swept from the theatre to the adjoining wooden buildings. The Mexican firemen did their best with the antiquated appliances they possess, but all hope of saving the theatre was lost from the first. They therefore turned their attention to the adjoining structures, which were the Customs House and Post Office. not before the firemen managed to save the registered letters and Customs records. The destruction of the Post Office destroyed the telegraph service, arid eomnfuhiotlon with the outside world was not restored until the Tuesday. The news that 'then came through was very meagre, but It was stated that the dead, burnt beyond recognition, were T>elng burled In large treuches as speedily as possible. The American Consul telegraphed ■that no British or American subjects had lost their lives, and that aid was being sent from Mexico City and other places for the sufferers by the calamity. Women and children were apparently the worst snffeters, being trampled down by the men In the rush for the doors. It was near the front exit that the flre commenced, and many of those who escaped were badly burned In doing so. The roof an hour after the flre commenced, burying all the pebple left In the burning ruins. Not a family In Acdpulco but mourns a loss, arid in one or two instances whole families, some of 'them wealthy and prominent, have been exterminated.

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MEXICAN THEATRE FIRE. Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 80, 3 April 1909

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