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Brazil nightclub fire kills many.

Special Ed

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PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (Reuters) - A fire in a nightclub killed at least 245 people in southern Brazil on Sunday when a band's pyrotechnics show set the building ablaze and fleeing patrons were unable to find the emergency exits in the ensuing panic, officials said.

The blaze in the southern city of Santa Maria was started when a band member or someone from its production team ignited a flare, which then set fire to the ceiling, said Luiza Sousa, a civil police official. The fire spread "in seconds," she said.

An estimated 500 people were in the Boate Kiss nightclub when the fire broke out early on Sunday, and many were unable to find the exits as dark smoke quickly filled the room. At least one exit was locked, trapping hundreds inside to die, many from asphyxiation as they inhaled smoke, police said.

"When I looked around, all I saw were dead bodies all around, lying on the floor. It was macabre," survivor Taynne Vendrusculo told GloboNews TV. "It all happened so fast. Both the panic and the fire spread rapidly, in seconds."

Television footage showed people sobbing outside the club, while shirtless firefighters used sledge hammers and axes to knock down an exterior wall to open up an exit.

By noon (1400 GMT), the death toll had risen to 245 and 48 people were being treated in local hospitals, said Major Cleberson Bastianello, head of the military police unit leading the rescue efforts. He said all of the bodies of the victims had been removed from the nightclub.

President Dilma Rousseff, who started her political career in the same state where the fire happened, cut short a visit to Chile to return to Brazil to visit the scene. Before departing, Rousseff gave a televised statement in which she broke out in tears as she pledged government help for the victims and their families.

"We are trying to mobilize all possible resources to help in the rescue efforts," she said. "All I can say at the moment is that my feelings are of deep sorrow."

The disaster recalls other incidents including a 2003 fire at a nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island, that killed 100, and a Buenos Aires nightclub blaze in 2004 that killed nearly 200. In both incidents, a band or members of the audience ignited fires that set the establishment ablaze.

Brazil's safety standards and emergency response capabilities are under particular scrutiny as it prepares to host the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament and the 2016 Olympics.

The Boate Kiss nightclub was a popular venue in Santa Maria, a university town of more than 275,000 people. The massive nightclub sometimes attracts up to 2,000 people on a given night, according to reviews on the Internet.

One of the club's owners had already surrendered to police in Santa Maria for questioning, GloboNews reported.

Rio Grande do Sul state Health Secretary Ciro Simoni said emergency medical supplies from all over the state were being sent to the scene.

Santa Maria is some 186 miles west of the state capital of Porto Alegre. "A sad Sunday!" tweeted Rio Grande do Sul Governor Tarso Genro. He said "all possible measures" were being taken in response.

(Additional reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal, Gustavo Bonato, Leila Coimbra, Todd Benson, Jeferson Ribeiro and Brian Winter; Editing by Todd Benson, Kieran Murray and Eric Beech)


When will people ever learn.

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I think the owners have far worse things to worry about. There are still people in the hospital that could add to the death toll. Could reach 300 still. 300 angry Brazilian families once they find out who owns the place jail time will be the least of the worries.

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Here is a look at some of the biggest nightclub fires in the past century:

  • A blaze at the Lame Horse nightclub in Perm, Russia, broke out in December 2009, when an indoor fireworks display ignited a plastic ceiling decorated with branches, killing 152.

  • A December 2004 fire killed 194 people at an overcrowded working-class nightclub in Buenos Aires, Argentina, after a flare ignited ceiling foam.

  • A nightclub fire in the U.S. state of Rhode Island in 2003 killed 100 people after pyrotechnics used as a stage prop by the 1980s rock band Great White set ablaze cheap soundproofing foam on the walls and ceiling.

  • In China's worst nightclub disaster in recent years, a fire blamed on a welding accident tore through a disco in the central city of Luoyang in December 2000, killing 309 people.

  • A fire at the Ozone Disco Pub in 1996 in Quezon City, Philippines, killed 162 people, many of them students celebrating the end of the school year.

  • In 1977, 165 people perished and more than 200 were injured when the Beverly Hills Supper Club in Southgate, Kentucky, which touted itself as the Showplace of the Nation, burned to the ground.

  • A fire killed 492 people at Boston's Cocoanut Grove club in 1942, the deadliest nightclub blaze in U.S. history. The fire led to the enactment of requirements for sprinkler systems and accessible exits with emergency lights not linked to the regular lighting system.

  • In 1940, a fire ignited the decorative Spanish moss draping the ceiling of the Rhythm Night Club in Natchez, Mississippi, killing 209 people. Hundreds of patrons ran to the only exit. The windows had been boarded shut to keep unwanted guests from sneaking in.


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Santa Maria is a very nice city, home of the 4th biggest and most important airbase in Brazil but also receive general aviation and some airliners there. landed there many and many times...

the state (Rio Grande do Sul, the capital is Porto Alegre) is also very nice, home of the most beautifull women in Brazil. forget Rio de Janeiro, if you want see hot girls, go to Rio Grande do Sul...

what happened there was as "Zaibatsu" said, it really was a disater waiting to happen. they put too many people in a small place, set a show in there and pray for everything goes fine without any disaster...

but appart from what you people think the "justice" in Brazil is slow, takes a lot of time and isn´t for all. the owner will go to court but will request an "Habeas Corpus" and pay a small fine, will find a good lawer and after 10 years maybe those families will receive some explanation and money.

this is not USA or Canada. laws here are complicated and with a lot of exceptions...

during the military administration it was way more simple and fast. but our democracy costs a lot and I´m not sure what we gain with such mess...

assuming that people in Rio Grande do Sul are well educated, "patriotic", protest very much and don´t give up easy maybe some justice will be made because people there really "go for fight" if necessary...

Dilma Roussef is a puppie, she´s only where she is because of Lula da Silva. He (Lula) said to the people "Vote in Dilma, she is my comrade" and the people here voted in Dilma.

it´s something like what happened in Russia with Putin and Medvedev...

Tarso Genro is also another puppie, he´s there only because of Lula...

want improve the Brazilian Security? put the Military (Army, Navy and Airforce) on streets. criminals here don´t fear the police, BUT THEY FEAR THE MILITARY with their souls. because, you know, criminals may "visit" Jacareacanga...

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I´m sad to inform that the number of deaths are increasing fast, more 5 deaths are confirmed and there´s 75 people severely injured due to burning or smoke intoxication, and another number of people who can developt pneumonia in a near future due to dense smoke...

only now our president declared that now nightclubs will have an specific law to follow. the most curious is that this law already existed during the Military administration but was "eliminated" by our democracy. now returns...

it was necessary more than 230 people loosing their lifes for somebody do something! those Politics make our nation sick and miserable! We´re are the only country on this planet that gives 13th salary for Politics, and they receive 60.000 US Dollars every month for do what? nothing!

ok. during the Military administration we didn´t have freedom to speak or to think, that´s true, every Brazilian feared Jacareacanga. BUT at least we had security to walk on streets at any time and the justice were made, there were simple rules but it worked...

I´m not sure if our democracy has a good cost, we´re paying too much for not having what we desired...

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