Philippines sentences over 1996 Ozone Disco fire

Scene of Ozone Disco Bar fire Image copyright AP
Image caption Victims' families and survivors battled for 18 years for justice

Seven Philippine safety officers have been sentenced to jail for corruption over a fire at a night club that killed 162 people in Quezon City in 1996.

The officials gave safety permits to the Ozone Disco Club without carrying out checks, the court found.

They were sentenced to between six and 10 years, but will not go to jail until after appeals are heard. Two managers of the club also received jail terms.

The fire is one of the most deadly blazes ever to hit a night club.

Image copyright AP
Image caption President Fidel Ramos (right) visited the scene of the disaster
Image copyright AP
Image caption The fire sparked nationwide anger and grief

Some campaigners for survivors of the fire expressed anger that the verdicts had taken so long.

Dante Jimenez told the AFP news agency some of the survivors had died in the time it had taken to hear the case.

"This reflects how rotten the justice system is," he said.

A court official told AFP that those convicted had 15 days to appeal, and added that she did not know where any of the nine were.

Those who died in the fire were mostly students celebrating the end of the academic year.

They could not escape the fire because emergency exits were blocked by other buildings.

Officials at the time described it as the deadliest fire in Philippine history.

The Philippines has poor safety standards and large fires are relatively common - particularly in slum areas.

Deadliest night-club fires

1942: Cocoanut Grove, Boston, US - 492 killed

2000: Luoyang dance hall fire, China - fire blamed on welders kills 309

2013: Kiss club in Santa Maria, Brazil, kills 233

2004: Cromagnon Republic Club, Buenos Aires, Argentina, kills 194

1977: Beverly Hills Supper Club, Southgate, Kentucky, 165 killed

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