Five colleagues who died in last year's Top One Karaoke club blaze were out celebrating, the inquest into the deaths heard yesterday on its opening day. Colleagues in an import-export firm, Tang Fung-ping, 34, Eva Lin Lai-king, 28, Kam Siu-mei, 23, Ng Wai-yeung, 28, and Ho Wing-lim, 26, had been out for a spring celebration dinner. The three women and two men then went to the Top One Karaoke club in Prat Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui. The inferno - started by a petrol bomb thrown as part of a gang battle - ripped through the club in the early hours of January 25, claiming 17 lives. One of those, 16-year-old waitress Lau Mei-chu, died in hospital four days later, the Coroner's Court heard. 'On January 29, the decision was made to stop the breathing aid,' her father, Lau Hok-ming, said. Relatives of the six men and 11 women who died in the fire packed the courtroom. The inquest is expected to last three weeks. Coroner Ian Thomas said the likelihood of a verdict of unlawful killing was high, but he would examine the circumstances of the deaths against a wider framework of public interest. 'This is not the first time the matter has come in front of the courts. 'There was a dispute between organised gangs and the fire was started by a petrol bomb. 'The inquest will be conducted into matters of public interest, such as the managing of the karaoke and maybe another inquest on furniture involving PU [polyurethane] foam.' Evidence will be given by club employees who discovered the fire, and by experts on how the fire started and spread. Firefighting methods and proposed legislation will also be looked at. Under the Social Welfare Department's criminal and law enforcement injuries compensation scheme, 16 relatives have already received between $10,000 and $70,000. Relatives seeking Legal Aid to bring a civil damages claim will have to wait for the verdict of the inquest. In July, three men were found guilty of murder and were jailed for life. A fourth received an 11-year sentence for manslaughter. The inquest continues today.