Arrests in Brazil nightclub fire, funerals begin
Brazilian police say they've made three arrests and are seeking a fourth person in connection with a nightclub fire that killed more than 230 people.PT1M33S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2dhfh 620 349 January 29, 2013
SANTA MARIA: Brazilian police have arrested four suspects in connection with the nightclub fire that killed 231 people and forced officials to defend preparations for the soccer World Cup and Olympics.
Two of the Kiss club's owners were arrested, with two musicians who set off the pyrotechnic show blamed for sparking the tragedy in Santa Maria.
The inferno forced the cancellation of an event to mark the countdown of 500 days until next year's World Cup.
Protest … residents of Santa Maria in Brazil march demanding justice for the victims of a fire in a local nightclub. More than 200 people have died so far. Photo: AFP
The fire broke out at about 2am on Sunday when the club was packed with students. Survivors said the band's vocalist lit a firework that may have triggered the blaze.
''We think the most plausible cause of the fire were the pyrotechnics used by the band, which released sparks and set the roof alight,'' the Police Commissioner, Sandro Meinerz, said.
As distraught mourners laid wreaths outside the scene, a police official, Michele Vimmermann, said the club's co-owner Elissandro Spohr and two members of the Gurizada Fandangueira band had been detained. A second unnamed club owner surrendered later in the day. Mr Meinerz said the club had had no valid permits to operate since August and that the club's emergency exits led only to the main entrance, which became a deadly bottleneck. Most of the victims died of smoke inhalation.
People gather to honor the victims of a fatal fire at Kiss nightclub in a plaza on the surroundings of the club. Photo: AP
In a statement to police, Mr Spohr acknowledged the club's licence had expired, but said he had requested a renewal. He blamed the band for the incident, according to the Globo G1 website. The band denied they had been at fault and said their accordionist was among the dead. ''We want justice, we're not to blame for anything, we didn't want to lose a companion,'' band member, Rodrigo Lemos Martins, told G1.
Mr Spohr denied witness accounts he had ordered security guards to block the exit of the club and that he had removed a computer that held security footage.
Officials revised the death toll from 233 to 231 and said at least 100 others remained in hospital, 80 of them in serious condition.
Rescue workers investigate Kiss nightclub. Photo: AFP