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Nightclub Blaze: Brazil Mourns The 233 Dead and 117 Injured

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Nightclub Blaze: Brazil Mourns The 233 Dead and 117 Injured

Post  Panda on Mon 28 Jan - 6:36

Nightclub Blaze: Brazil Mourns The Dead

Witnesses say a flare or firework may have sparked a club fire in Brazil, amid reports security guards blocked fleeing patrons.

6:11am UK, Monday 28 January 2013

Video: Many of the victims have still not been identified

  • The blaze happened at Kiss club in Santa Maria, in southern Brazil.

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  • Firefighters battle to douse the fire.

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  • People run away as firefighters try to put out the fire.

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  • The injured receive medical assistance.

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  • Men try desperately to break through a wall to help revellers.

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  • Crowds gather - some who have managed to get out - to help those still inside the nightspot.

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  • Fire crews remain at the scene as dawn breaks the following morning.

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  • Red Cross workers arrive to tend to the injured.

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  • Relatives embrace as they wait for information from the authorities.

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  • Relatives of victims attend a collective wake in Santa Maria

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  • The country's president, Dilma Rouseff, cut short a visit to Chile to deal with the aftermath of the tragedy.

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Gallery: Deadly Nightclub Fire In Brazil

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Brazil is in mourning after more than 230 people died when a fire broke out in a packed nightclub, leading to a stampede.

Witnesses said a flare or firework lit by members of a band onstage started the blaze in Santa Maria, a university city of about 260,000 people.

Officials say 233 people died, and around 117 others were injured.

Survivors and the police inspector Marcelo Arigony said security guards briefly tried to block people from exiting the club.

Brazilian bars routinely make patrons pay their entire tab at the end of the night before they are allowed to leave.
Relatives at a wake in Santa Maria
But Mr Arigony said the guards did not appear to block fleeing patrons for long.

"It was chaotic and it doesn't seem to have been done in bad faith because several security guards also died," he said.

The blaze broke out while the band, called Gurizada Fandangueira, was performing at the Kiss club in Santa Maria.

Some of those who escaped the building tried to smash a hole in the wall to allow other trapped people out.

Fire chief Guido de Melo said there was panic after the fire started and many revellers were trampled. He said the main cause of death was asphyxiation.
Men try to break through a wall to help the victims
Mr Melo said that firefighters had a hard time getting inside the club because "there was a barrier of bodies blocking the entrance".

Officials at a news conference said the cause was still under investigation.

However, police inspector Sandro Meinerz told the Agencia Estado news agency the band was to blame for a pyrotechnics show and that manslaughter charges could be filed.

Television images showed black smoke billowing out of the Kiss nightclub as shirtless young men who had attended a university party joined firefighters using axes and sledgehammers to pound at windows and pink exterior walls to free those trapped inside.

Bodies of the dead and injured were strewn in the street and panicked screams filled the air as medics tried to help.

There was little to be done; officials said most of those who died were suffocated by smoke within minutes.
The packed club had only one exit
Within hours a community gym was a horror scene, with body after body lined up on the floor, partially covered with black plastic as family members identified relatives.

Many of the victims were under 20 years old, including some children.

"There was so much smoke and fire, it was complete panic, and it took a long time for people to get out, there were so many dead," survivor Luana Santos Silva told the Globo TV network.

Another survivor, Michele Pereira, told the Folha de S Paulo newspaper that she was near the stage when members of the band lit flares that started the fire.

"The band that was onstage began to use flares and, suddenly, they stopped the show and pointed them upward," she said. "At that point, the ceiling caught fire. It was really weak, but in a matter of seconds it spread."

Guitarist Rodrigo Martins told Radio Gaucha that the band started playing at 2:15am.
The fire took place in Santa Maria
"We had played around five songs when I looked up and noticed the roof was burning," he said.

"It might have happened because of the Sputnik, the machine we use to create a luminous effect with sparks. It's harmless, we never had any trouble with it.

"When the fire started, a guard passed us a fire extinguisher, the singer tried to use it but it wasn't working."

He confirmed that accordion player Danilo Jacques, 28, died, while the five other members made it out safely.

Brazil President Dilma Rousseff arrived to visit the injured after cutting short her trip to a Latin American-European summit in Chile.

"It is a tragedy for all of us," Ms Rousseff said.

Britain's Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire said: "I am deeply saddened by the news of the tragic accident in Santa Maria.

"My thoughts and sincere condolences are with the families and loved ones of those who have lost their lives, and I wish a swift recovery to the hundreds who are now being treated in hospital."

The blaze was the deadliest in Brazil since at least 1961, when a fire that swept through a circus killed 503 people in Niteroi, Rio de Janeiro.
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