Monday, January 28, 2013

Police arrest Brazil club owner after inferno: official

PHOTO | VANDERLEI ALMEIDA The front pages of the main Brazilian newspapers in a newsstand in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on January 28, 2013 have images and headlines related to the tragedy that occurred on the eve in the southern city of Santa Maria, when a blaze in a disco killed 231 youngsters.

PHOTO | VANDERLEI ALMEIDA The front pages of the main Brazilian newspapers in a newsstand in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on January 28, 2013 have images and headlines related to the tragedy that occurred on the eve in the southern city of Santa Maria, when a blaze in a disco killed 231 youngsters.  AFP

By AFP

SANTA MARIA

Authorities have arrested one of the owners of a Brazilian nightclub where 231 partygoers perished in a blaze blamed by survivors on a band's pyrotechnics show, a police official said Monday.

Two members of a musical group also were arrested, and a warrant was issued for another owner of the club, Kiss, said police official Michele Vimmermann.

"There were three temporary detentions," Vimmermann said.

Vimmermann said those in custody were nightclub owner Elissandro Sphor, as well as the vocalist and another member of the Gurizada Fandangueira band.

The fire erupted during the group's performance, with some survivors saying that its lead singer lit a firework that could have caused sparks and set off the inferno.

Allegations also surfaced that the club lacked the necessary emergency exits, that at least one fire extinguisher did not work and, according to firefighters, their safety license had expired in August.

The club said in a statement, however, that everything was in order. In comments to the media, a band member also ruled out responsibility.

Word of the arrests came as Brazil observed three days of national mourning in the wake of the tragedy in the southern university town of Santa Maria that mostly claimed the lives of young people.

As friends and family members bid farewell to their loved ones, officials revised the death toll from 233 to 231 and said at least 100 others remained hospitalized, 80 of them in serious condition.

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