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Brazil nightclub owner blames country for fire

Last Updated: Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 08:52

Santa Maria: The owner of a nightclub in southern Brazil where more than 230 people died in a fire last weekend deflected blame to "the whole country," as well as to architects and inspectors charged with making sure the building was safe, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

Attorney Jader Marques said his client, Elissandro Spohr, "regretted having ever been born" because of his grief over the fire, but still blamed Sunday`s tragedy on "a succession of errors made by the whole country."

Police investigating the blaze have said it likely started when a country music band performing at the Kiss nightclub in the college town of Santa Maria lit a flare, which ignited flammable soundproofing foam on the ceiling.

That initial error was compounded by the near-total lack of emergency infrastructure such as a fire alarms or sprinkler systems, police have said. The club also had only one working door and a faulty fire extinguisher.

Marques insisted in a phone interview with a news agency that "my client`s responsibility is having trusted too much in the inspectors and in those responsible for the construction."

"Hindsight is 20-20," he said, stressing that public officials had signed off on the club.

The number of injured jumped to 143 today after 22 people were admitted to hospitals with respiratory problems after having escaped the club apparently unharmed.

Brazil Health Minister Alexandre Padilha has urged the fire`s survivors to remain alert for any symptoms of so-called "chemical pneumonia," which can take up to three days to develop following exposure to toxic fumes and smoke.

The blaze also claimed another life late yesterday, raising the death toll to 235, as a 21-year-old man with burns covering 70 percent of his body succumbed to his wounds. Brazilian media reported that the man`s brother was also killed in the fire.

Today, oversized white graffiti reading "justice for all" appeared on the facade of the club. Brazilian media reported that a crowd of spectators cheered the young artist as he worked from atop the club`s roof while police looked on from below.

He escaped over neighbouring roofs, the reports said.


First Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 08:52
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