Brazil detains band, club owners after deadly nightclub fire

Mon Jan 28, 2013 9:16pm 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.

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. After sunset, thousands joined a procession through the streets of the city, dressed in white and wearing black arm bands.

Some mourners demanded answers about the safety measures at the nightclub, where hundreds were trapped after the ceiling became engulfed in flames.

"Why the regulations? Why pay taxes? What is the government doing?" read a banner carried by university students who had lost friends in the fire.

The tragedy comes 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."   Continued...

People march in tribute to the victims of the Kiss nightclub fire in the southern city of Santa Maria, 187 miles (301 km) west of the state capital Porto Alegre, January 28, 2013. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes (BRAZIL - Tags: DISASTER)