Brazil no safer a year after deadly club fire

2014-01-27 17:04
Relatives of Kiss club victims. (Ronald Mendes, AP)

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

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Rio de Janeiro - Never again, officials vowed a year ago, would Brazil see a horror like the nightclub fire that killed 242 young men and women, all suffocated by toxic smoke that quickly filled a windowless bunker of a building with no emergency exits.

Yet as Brazil marks the anniversary on Monday of the deadly blaze at the Kiss nightclub, almost nothing concrete has been done at any level of government to improve fire safety. That's stoking fears that another tragedy awaits, especially as tourists and locals pack clubs during the World Cup football tournament starting across the country in June.

"What killed those kids at that nightclub was our culture, a culture of not liking to obey laws", said Luciano Favero, a fire prevention specialist based in Rio Grande do Sul state, where the Kiss fire occurred. "Brazil is a country that reacts; it does not prevent."

It was about 02:30 on 27 January 2013, when soundproofing foam on the ceiling caught fire in the overcrowded nightclub in the university town of Santa Maria. The lead singer of a country band onstage had lit a flare as part of an illegal indoor pyrotechnics show, sparking the blaze.

Investigators said the burning foam released cyanide, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide that quickly killed those attending a university party. Scores of bodies were piled in twisted knots inside the club as hundreds stampeded through darkness, trying to reach a single row of four doors that served as both entry and exit. Aside from the dead, 630 people were injured, and about 90 of them still face grave health problems from smoke inhalation.

Fire safety code

A day after the fire, President Dilma Rousseff presided over a previously scheduled meeting of new mayors from across Brazil, where she told them about the "indescribable pain" she witnessed upon visiting with victims' families just hours after the blaze.

"I speak of that pain to remind all of us with executive powers of the responsibilities we have toward our population", Rousseff said. "In the face of this tragedy, we have the duty to make the commitment, to ensure that this will never happen again."

The president's words resulted in nothing, said Rodrigo Tavares, a private engineer and fire-safety consultant in Brazil.

"At first, we had this national uproar and many plans to make changes", Tavares said. "However, in practical terms, the situation of security and fire protection remains the same."

What Tavares and other experts agree is the single most important step needed is the passage of a national fire safety code to impose and enforce the same standards across Brazil.

The Santa Maria blaze exposed deep flaws in Brazil's system, which gives states and even individual cities in some cases the right to determine their own fire codes and how to enforce them.

Leaders forgot

That leaves most of the country at the mercy of poorly trained and overtaxed inspectors working in a system with widespread corruption, where a bribe is an easy way around inspections.

Congressman Paulo Pimenta, a member of the governing Workers Party who is from Santa Maria, has tried unsuccessfully to push a national fire safety code through Congress during the past year.

He says a bill hasn't passed because leaders quickly forgot about the blaze and turned to other matters as the sting of the tragedy faded.

Pimenta's bill would force buildings to install more emergency exits, which are rarely used in many parts of Brazil, and ensure that materials like the soundproofing in the Kiss club are approved by government regulators.

His bill would also make it easier to hold local officials accountable for approving inadequate fire plans for clubs, hotels and other establishments.

Both the Santa Maria mayor's office and fire department say they've stepped up inspections in the city, but that they're waiting on the state legislature or national congress to put into action any stiffer safety demands.

In relation to the Kiss blaze, the club's two owners and two band members blamed for starting the fire face homicide charges, but are free pending trial.

A guilty verdict could bring a prison sentence of up to 30 years, although the complexity of Brazil's legal system and the ability to present numerous appeals generally means several years can elapse before someone convicted of a crime is put behind bars.

- AP
Read more on:    world cup 2014  |  dilma rousseff  |  brazil  |  brazil club fire
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
3 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Africa: Land of Billionaires!

Find out who are the richest of the richest in Africa!

 
 

Men24.com

Jurassic World trailer is epic!
Best bro movies 2014
Every man should be able to do these three things
Goalkeeper saves five penalties with his FACE!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Hot festive offers at kalahari.com!

Hurry! Stocks are limited. Don’t miss out. Shop Now!

Save up to 60% on toys!

Don’t miss out on this hot offer, save up to 60% on toys. While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may feel divided. Conflict between mind and emotions can create tension or indecision. This could lead to stressful feelings...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.