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Brazil's fire-ravaged disco violated regulations: police


10:12, January 30, 2013

RIO DE JANEIRO, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- The Brazilian nightclub that went up in flames early Sunday, killing more than 230 people, was in violation of a slew of regulations, local police chief said Tuesday.

"We have several pieces of evidence that the nightclub should not have been allowed to open," said Marcelo Arigony, who is in charge of investigating the cause of the fire.

Preliminary investigations have revealed several irregularities, including the fact that the nightclub had only one exit and had let in too many people, leading to a deadly stampede when the fire broke out, Arigony told reporters.

Fire regulations stipulate that there should be at least a second exit, and the club should not have been allowed to remain open without it, he said.

If the investigation confirms the violations, he said, the government agency that allowed the club to operate may be held partly accountable.

In a similar nightclub fire in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2004, City Hall employees who had issued a permit for the club despite its lack of safety measures were sentenced to two years in prison.

In addition to overcrowding and the lack of emergency exits, several other violations are being investigated, including the lighting of flares or fireworks in an indoor space, which is believed to have caused the fire.

Members of a band playing at the club lit at least one flare that ignited the flammable foamy soundproof ceiling and started a fire that spread quickly, releasing toxic black smoke.

Survivors said the club's fire extinguishers were not working, and the club's staff were alleged to have initially blocked the exit to prevent clients from leaving without paying their bills.

Two band members and two club owners were detained Monday on temporary arrest warrants. Police suspect the owners of attempting to tamper with evidence of their negligence, including security camera footage and the cash register, which could show how many people were inside the club at the time.

The fire at the Kiss nightclub in south Brazil's college town of Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul state, killed 234 people, according to the latest report from the authorities. Among the 127 people injured, 115 remain hospitalized from smoke inhalation or burns.

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