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California dance party blaze toll rises to 33

The death toll from a fire at a California warehouse where a rave party was taking place rose to 33 on Sunday, with the authorities saying they had no idea how many more bodies they may find.

“When we started this investigation, if you would have told us we would have 33 victims, we wouldn’t have believed you,” Sergeant Ray Kelly of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department told reporters, adding that crews had searched less than half of the gutted building.

“I don’t know how many people are left in there. We have no idea how many people were in that building that night…We’re expecting the worst and hoping for the best in regards to how many more victims we find.”

The fire in Oakland, near San Francisco, broke out about 11:30 p.m. Friday (3:30 a.m. Saturday in Manila) at the cluttered warehouse where artists and students worked and lived, even though the structure wasn’t licensed for such use.

The electronic dance music party, with between 50 and 100 guests, also took place without a permit.

Although the cause of the fast-moving blaze remains under investigation, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said the district attorney had opened a criminal investigation as a precaution to preserve options as the case unfolds. (AFP)