In the aftermath of the devastating fire that killed more than 230 partygoers at a Brazilian nightclub, the club’s owner and two band members that performed that night have been arrested for their role in the melee.
Elissandro Spohr, one of the club owners, and the lead singer of the band Gurizada Fandangueira – which was playing at the time the fire broke out – and the band’s security man, are among those who are being blamed for the fire.
An arrest warrant has been issued for the other co-owner of the Kiss nightclub, Mauro Hoffman, but he has not yet been located.
CBS is reporting that the lead vocalist for the band, Marcelo Santos, was detained this morning while he was attending the wake of his fellow band member, Danilo Jacques, who died in the blaze when he went back to retrieve his accordion.
According to CBS:
Inspectors believe the blaze began when a band’s small pyrotechnics show ignited foam sound insulating material on the ceiling, releasing a putrid haze that caused scores of university students to choke to death. Most victims died from smoke inhalation rather than burns in what appeared to be the world’s deadliest nightclub fire in more than a decade.
The local university, The Federal University of Santa Maria, confirmed to CBS that 101 of its students were among the dead.
The club is also coming under criticism for the fire because survivors report that security guards 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.
Police inspector Sandro Meinerz told reporters that it was difficult for firefighters and rescue squads to get inside the building because of the bodies piled up by the exit.
“It was terrible inside — it was like one of those films of the Holocaust, bodies piled atop one another,” said Meinerz. “We had to use trucks to remove them. It took about six hours to take the bodies away.”
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, says most of the dead apparently were asphyxiated.
“Large amounts of toxic smoke quickly filled the room, and I would say that at least 90 percent of the victims died of asphyxiation,” Beltrame told the AP.
“The toxic smoke made people lose their sense of direction so they were unable to find their way to the exit. At least 50 bodies were found inside a bathroom. Apparently they confused the bathroom door with the exit door.”
The first funerals are set to start on Monday.
The investigation is still ongoing. We pray for the families and victims of this terrible accident.