Brazil club fire: Band's flares blamed

2013-01-27 18:38
Relatives of Kiss club victims. (Ronald Mendes, AP)

Relatives of Kiss club victims. (Ronald Mendes, AP)

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Brazil nightclub fire

2013-01-27 16:52

Watch as volunteers battle fire and smoke to rescue people in the aftermath of a deadly fire at a nightclub in southern Brazil that left as many as 200 dead. WATCH

Brasilia - The fire which swept through a Brazilian nightclub early on Sunday, killing 245 people, might have been caused by a flare or firework lit by band member, witnesses say.

The deadly fire at the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria also left 200 people injured, police and firefighters said.

Police Major Cleberson Braida told local news media that the 245 bodies were brought for identification to a gymnasium in the city.

Television images showed smoke pouring out of the nightclub as shirtless, young male partygoers joined firefighters in wielding axes and sledgehammers, pounding at windows and walls to break through to those trapped inside.

Teenagers sprinted from the scene desperately trying to find help - others carried injured and burned friends away in their arms.

"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.

Silva added that firefighters and ambulances responded quickly after the fire broke out, but that it spread too fast inside the packed club for them to help.

Michele Pereira, another survivor, told the Folha de S Paulo newspaper that she was near the stage and that the fire broke out after band members lit flares.

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

Full

Civil Police and regional government spokesperson Marcelo Arigoni told Radio Gaucha earlier that the total number of victims is still unclear and there may be hundreds injured. Officials earlier said 180 were killed.

Rodrigo Moura, identified by the newspaper Diario de Santa Maria as a security guard at the club, said it was at its maximum capacity of between 1 000 and 2 000, and partygoers were pushing and shoving to escape.

Ezekiel Corte Real, 23, was quoted by the paper as saying that he helped people to escape. "I just got out because I'm very strong," he said.

The fire led President Dilma Roussef to cancel a series of meetings she had scheduled at a summit of Latin American and European leaders in Chile's capital of Santiago, and was headed to Santa Maria, according to the Brazilian foreign ministry.

"It is a tragedy for all of us. I am not going to continue in the meeting [in Chile] for very clear reasons," she said.

"Sad Sunday", tweeted Tarso Genro, the governor of the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. He said all possible action was being taken and that he would be in the city later in the day.

Santa Maria is a major university city with a population of around a quarter of a million.


- AP
Read more on:    brazil  |  brazil club fire
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