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75 injured in Brazil nightclub fire still in critical conditions


09:08, January 30, 2013

RIO DE JANEIRO, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- Brazilian Health Minister Alexandre Padilha Tuesday said 75 people remained in "critical condition" after sustaining injuries over the weekend in Brazil's deadliest fire in more than 50 years.

The Kiss nightclub fire killed 231 people and sent more than a hundred others to hospital, mostly from toxic smoke inhalation or third-degree burns in southern Brazil's college town of Santa Maria, in Rio Grande do Sul state.

Padilha said most of the critically injured were breathing with the help of respiratory devices, while 20 had suffered serious burns.

"People who were at the club and have a cough, shortness of breath and fatigue should go to the doctor, because it might be what we call chemical pneumonia," he said, adding respiratory problems can deteriorate quickly.

Relatives of those who died or were injured in the blaze will receive psychological counseling, he said.

The president of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies, Marco Maia, announced the creation of an investigative committee to look into the causes of the fire.

"This undertaking is important to verify which guidelines were not followed or whether there is a flaw in city legislation," said Maia, proposing the possibility of a national law to standardize security in public places, such as nightclubs and theaters.

On Monday, authorities arrested three people in connection to the fire, including a club owner and two members of a band that was playing at the time of the accident early Sunday. A second owner later turned himself in.

Officials said they suspected the owners of tampering with evidence, including security camera footage of the disco's interiors and the cash register, both of which could determine whether too many people had been allowed in.

Survivors told police the musicians lit flares that sparked the fire.

The Brazilian government decreed an official three-day period of mourning for the victims of the fire, mostly college-age students at a local university.

In Brazil's deadliest fire in recent history, an arson attack on a circus tent in December 1961 in the Brazilian city of Niteroi killed more than 500 people and injured over 800.

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