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Arrests made in Brazil nightclub blaze investigation

Local reports indicate that as many as 75 people are still in hospital in life-threatening conditions.

Mauro Hoffmann, right, co-owner of the Kiss nightclub, is escorted by police as he voluntarily surrenders at a police station in Santa Maria, Brazil.
Mauro Hoffmann, right, co-owner of the Kiss nightclub, is escorted by police as he voluntarily surrenders at a police station in Santa Maria, Brazil.
Image: Nabor Goulart/AP/Press Association Images

FOUR PEOPLE HAVE been arrested in Brazil in connection with the nightclub blaze which saw 231 people lose their lives at the weekend.

Those detained include the two co-owners of Kiss nightclub, as well as two of the performers of Sunday’s pyrotechnic show, according to Agencia Brasil.

The two proprietors of the Santa Maria club surrendered themselves to police and can be held for up to five days.

The State news agency also said that there are up to 75 people fighting for their lives following the blaze in the university town.

At least 83 patients are still hospitalised, and 33 remain in a very serious condition.

The fire broke out at around 2am Sunday in the club, which was packed with students. Survivors said the band’s vocalist lit a firework that may have triggered the blaze.

While friends and family members bid farewell to their loved ones, officials revised the death toll down from 233 to 231. Health Minister Alexandre Padilha said 75 more were in “intensive care… and are in some danger of dying.”

“We think the most plausible cause of the fire were the pyrotechnics used by the band, which released sparks and set the roof alight,” Police Commissioner Sandro Meinerz said.

People march into a tunnel near the Kiss nightclub honoring the victims of early Sunday’s fatal fire inside the club in Santa Maria, Brazil. (Felipe Dana/AP/Press Association Images)

President Dilma Rousseff pressed mayors across the massive South American nation to ensure that such a “terrible tragedy never takes place again.”

The president, who rushed back from a regional summit in Chile to meet with grieving families, called the pain she had witnessed “indescribable.”

Honouring the victims of early Sunday’s fatal fire during yesterday’s marches. (Image: Felipe Dana/AP/Press Association Images)

It is understood the owners of the nightclub, whose licence had expired, blame the performers for the fire. However, the band deny responsibility and say their accordian player is amongst the dead.

“We want justice, we’re not to blame for anything,” band member Rodrigo Lemos Martins told G1.

Club co-owner Elissandro Spohr has also disputed earlier reports that security personnel blocked the club’s exit to prevent people from leaving without paying for their drinks. He also denied removing a computer with CCTV footage from the premises.

Relatives hold photographs of Pamella Lopes, who died in a nightclub fire, as they stand a public square near the nightclub in Santa Maria. (Image: Felipe Dana/AP/Press Association Images)

Last night, thousands of people marched in silence through Santa Maria to remember and honour the victims.

“I know that my daughter isn’t coming back. But somebody has to pay for this,” said marcher Jorge Neves, who lost his daughter Rafaella.

With additional reporting by AFP

Brazil mourns victims of nightclub blaze

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