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First funerals begin for Brazil nightclub fire victims
2013-01-28 09:33:09 | (0 Comments)
(AP) — The bodies of the young college students were found piled up just inside the entrance of the Kiss nightclub, among more than 230 people who died in a cloud of toxic smoke after a blaze enveloped the crowded locale within seconds and set off a panic.
Hours later, the horrific chaos had transformed into a scene of tragic order, with row upon row of polished caskets of the dead lined up in the community gymnasium in the university city of Santa Maria.
Many of the victims were under 20 years old, including some minors.
The first funerals of victims were planned for today.
As the city in southern Brazil prepared to bury the 233 people killed in the conflagration caused by a band's pyrotechnic display, an early investigation into the tragedy revealed that security guards briefly prevented partygoers from leaving through the sole exit. And the bodies later heaped inside that doorway slowed firefighters trying to get in.
Survivors and another police inspector, Marcelo Arigony, said security guards briefly tried to block people from exiting the club.
Brazilian bars routinely make patrons pay their entire tab at the end of the night before they are allowed to leave.
Arigony told The Associated Press that it was chaotic and it doesn't seem to have been done in bad faith because several security guards also died.
Guido Pedroso Melo, commander of the city's fire department, told the O Globo newspaper that firefighters responding to the blaze initially had trouble entering the club because "there was a barrier of bodies blocking the entrance."
Police inspectors said they think the source of the blaze was a band's small pyrotechnics show.
The fire broke out sometime before 3 a.m. Sunday and the fast-moving fire and toxic smoke created by burning foam sound insulation material on the ceiling engulfed the club within seconds.
Authorities said band members who were on the stage when the fire broke out later talked with police and confirmed they used pyrotechnics during their show.
Most victims died from smoke inhalation rather than burns. Many of the dead, about equally split between young men and women, were also found in the club's two bathrooms, where they fled apparently because the blinding smoke caused them to believe the doors were exits.
Federal Health Minister Alexandre Padhilha told a news conference that most of the 117 people treated in hospitals had been poisoned by gases they breathed during the fire. Only a few suffered serious burns, he said.
Most of the dead apparently were asphyxiated, according to Dr. Paulo Afonso Beltrame, a professor at the medical school of the Federal University of Santa Maria who went to the city's Caridade Hospital to help victims.
Sunday's fire appeared to be the worst at a nightclub since December 2000, when a welding accident reportedly set off a fire at a club in Luoyang, China,
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Source: The Gleaner/Power 106 News
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