Investigators have attributed the cause of the tragedy to a performance artist who was juggling "cold-flame pyrotechnical maces," CNN said, one of which started the ceiling, which was plastic and lined with twigs, on fire. As the blaze began, the M.C. shouted, "ladies and gentlemen, we are on fire! Leave the hall!" the Times reported.
The blaze quickly spread to the club's wooden walls and engulfed the club, causing a panicked stampede that contributed to the death toll as well as the 130 injured, according to CNN. Those who died are said to have been trampled or inhaled large amounts of smoke.
The nightclub did not have a permit to use pyrotechnics indoors, the Times said, and they allegedly had been fined by inspectors in the past for having unsafe conditions.
Russian authorities have detained the club's two co-owners, manager and art director, as well as the man who provided the fireworks, in a criminal investigation of the tragedy. One Russian official blamed the "unsanctioned use of pyrotechnical devices," CNN said.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev declared Saturday a national day of mourning and called for the harshest possible punishment for those responsible. "First of all, they had neither brains nor a conscience," he said, according to the Times. "Secondly, they were completely indifferent to what happened. I watched a report--they even fled."
He also sent officials to Perm to take care of survivors and investigate, according to CNN.