5 Killed, 40 Injured in Fire That Swept Through a Hotel in Netanya

Five persons were killed in a pre-dawn fire that swept through the Park Hotel in Netanya yesterday and 40 others were injured, among them six American tourists from Miami, Fla. who were staying at the hotel. Police believe the blaze was a case of arson related to the protection racket that has been plaguing Israeli hotels, restaurants and other business. Several suspects have been arrested.

A U.S. Consular official who went to Netanya to help the American victims who had lost their possessions said one of the Miami group, Mrs. Ree Brown, was very seriously burned. The other Americans whose injuries ranged from moderate to serious, were identified as Mrs. Tina Lieb, Mrs. Burt Harrison, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Darman and Joe Rubin, all members of Temple Menora in Miami Beach.

Three of the five dead were identified as tourists. They were Avraham and Marcelle Cohen, aged about 65 and Gertrud Somerstaadt, 67, of Norway. The names of the two other fatalities were withheld by the authorities.

According to officials, the fire started at 4:40 a.m. in the hotel’s nightclub known as “One Up” where a singing group, “The Platters,” had performed earlier. The nightclub closed at 3:30 a.m. The suspects being held on suspicion of arson include several hotel employes. Police said they suspect that the night club manager was intending to sell the concession because he was unable to pay IL 15,000 a month allegedly demanded by extortionists. The Park was a Four Star hotel, a luxury class rating. The recently built eight-story building was severely damaged by the fire.

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