Brazil detains band, club owners after deadly nightclub fire

Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:33pm EST
 
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By Ana Flor

SANTA MARIA, Brazil (Reuters) - Brazilian police investigating a nightclub fire that killed 231 people detained on Monday the owners of the club and two band members whose pyrotechnics show authorities say triggered the blaze as the focus turned to finding those responsible for the tragedy.

No charges were filed against the four men, but prosecutors said they could be held for up to five days as police press them for clues as to how the fire early Sunday morning could have caused so many deaths.

Stunned residents in the southern city of Santa Maria attended a marathon of funerals beginning in the pre-dawn hours. As sunset approached, friends and family members readied for a candle-lit procession through the streets of the city.

The tragedy came as Brazil prepares to host the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament and 2016 Olympics, putting its safety standards and emergency response capabilities in the international spotlight.

President Dilma Rousseff, who cut short a visit to Chile to fly to the scene of the disaster on Sunday, called for a minute of silence before addressing a meeting of newly elected mayors in the capital, Brasilia.

"The pain I saw in Santa Maria was indescribable," Rousseff said. "Faced with this tragedy, it is our duty to make sure it never happens again."

Most of the dead were suffocated by toxic fumes that rapidly filled the Kiss nightclub after the band set off a flare at about 2:30 a.m. on Sunday, authorities said.

The club's operating license was under review for renewal after expiring last year.   Continued...

 
Relatives of Paula Simone Melo Prates, who died during the fire at Boate Kiss nightclub, attend her funeral at the cemetery in the southern city of Santa Maria, 187 miles (301 km) west of the state capital Porto Alegre, January 28, 2013. The nightclub fire killed at least 233 people in southern Brazil on Sunday when a band's pyrotechnics show set the building ablaze and fleeing partygoers stampeded toward blocked exits in the ensuing panic, officials said. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes (BRAZIL - Tags: DISASTER)