Brazil nightclub owners, band detained 30 more days after fire

Fri Feb 1, 2013 5:50pm EST
 

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - A judge in southern Brazil ordered 30 more days of detention on Friday for the owners of a nightclub and band members involved in a fire that killed 236 in the college town of Santa Maria last weekend.

The order came after a 20-year-old woman succumbed to her injuries late Thursday, pushing up the death toll from the country's second most deadly fire ever.

Civil defense authorities in Rio Grande do Sul, the state where Santa Maria is located, said the victim suffered a heart attack while struggling with injuries that included burns on more than half her body.

An additional 126 people remain hospitalized after the fire, which was caused by an outdoor flare set off by a musician performing at the Kiss nightclub, investigators said. The flare ignited overhead soundproofing, a synthetic foam that burned and within minutes spread toxic fumes throughout the venue.

Most of the victims died after inhaling the fumes, investigators concluded on Thursday.

Many of those in nearby hospitals, more than half of whom are on respirators, have developed scorched airways and inflamed lungs from the poisonous vapors. Authorities fear more survivors could be sickened by the fumes, noting that it may take a week for symptoms to appear.

On Friday, a judge extended the detention of two owners of the club and two band members for 30 more days as police look into safety violations that led to the disaster early on Sunday.

The judge considered preliminary testimony from an employee faulting club owners for faulty extinguishers and carelessness about overcrowding. The owner of a fireworks store testified that he had warned the band's producer that the flare was banned for indoor use.

Lawyers for the club owners and band members have maintained their innocence. Police have not yet charged any of the four detainees, but said at minimum they are likely to face manslaughter charges.   Continued...

 
A view of the Boate Kiss nightclub is seen in the southern city of Santa Maria, 187 miles (301 km) west of the state capital Porto Alegre in this handout photo released by the Policia Civil (Civil Police) January 29, 2013. A fire at the nightclub killed at least 231 people in Santa Maria early on Sunday when a band's pyrotechnics show set the building ablaze and fleeing partygoers stampeded toward blocked and overcrowded exits in the ensuing panic, officials said. REUTERS/Policia Civil/Handout