Night­club fire kills 233 in Brazil

The Kurdish Globe - - INTERNATIONAL -

A night­club fire killed at least 233 peo­ple in south­ern Brazil on Sun­day when a band's py­rotech­nics show set the build­ing ablaze and flee­ing par­ty­go­ers stam­peded to­ward blocked ex­its in the en­su­ing panic.

Most of those who died were suf­fo­cated by toxic fumes that rapidly filled the crowded club af­ter sparks from py­rotech­nics used by the band for vis­ual ef­fects set fire to sound­proof­ing on the ceil­ing, lo­cal fire of­fi­cials said.

"Smoke filled the place in­stantly, the heat be­came un­bear­able," sur­vivor Murilo Ti­escher, a med­i­cal stu­dent, told GloboNews TV. "Peo­ple could not find the only exit. They went to the toi­let think­ing it was the exit and many died there."

Fire­men said one exit was locked and that club bounc­ers, who at first thought those flee­ing were try­ing to skip out on bar tabs, ini­tially blocked pa­trons from leav­ing. The se­cu­rity staff re­lented only when they saw flames en­gulf­ing the ceil­ing.

The tragedy in the univer­sity town of Santa Maria in one of Brazil's most pros­per­ous states comes as the coun­try scram­bles to im­prove safety, se­cu­rity and lo­gis­ti­cal short­falls be­fore the 2014 World Cup soc­cer tour­na­ment and the 2016 Olympics, both in­tended to show­case the eco­nomic ad­vances and firstworld am­bi­tions of Latin Amer­ica's largest na­tion.

In Santa Maria, a city of more than 275,000 peo­ple, res­cue work­ers and weary of­fi­cials wept along­side fam­ily and friends of the vic­tims at a gym­na­sium be­ing used as a makeshift morgue.

"It's the sad­dest, sad­dest day of my life," said Neusa Soares, the mother of one of those killed, 22- year-old Vi­viane To­lio Soares. "I never thought I would have to live to see my girl go away."

Pres­i­dent Dilma Rouss­eff cut short an of­fi­cial visit to Chile and flew to Santa Maria, where she wept as she spoke to rel­a­tives of the vic­tims, most of whom were univer­sity stu­dents.

"All I can say at the moment is that my feel­ings are of deep sor­row," said Rouss­eff, who be­gan her po­lit­i­cal ca­reer in Rio Grande do Sul, the state where the fire oc­curred.

It was the dead­li­est night­club fire since 309 peo­ple died in a dis­cotheque blaze in China in 2000 and Brazil's worst fire at an en­ter­tain­ment venue since a dis­grun­tled em­ployee set fire to a cir­cus in 1961, killing well over 300 peo­ple.

Fire­fight­ers work to douse a fire at the Kiss Club in Santa Maria city, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, Sun­day, Jan. 27, 2013.

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