Count the people standing shoulder-to-shoulder in any one row on this street! Have no doubt, they are standing also on the sidewalk! The street is so very narrow, two fire trucks could not have positioned themselves in front of the building afire! No permit should have been given a business that was to hold so many people on a street where firemen could not do their job, properly! And their fire trucks are toy-size compared to any that would have been used in the USA to combat one such fire! Furthermore, parked cars had to be removed for the purpose! Look at the time wasted! What a shame! Certainly no "fire lane" was there! This was a preventable tragedy, but it was a tragedy waiting to happen!
Crackdown on nightclubs in Brazil after Santa Maria fire tragedy
The fire was Brazil's deadliest in half a century and the tragedy resonated across the country, with many people demanding those responsible be prosecuted and that the government tighten up on safety.
Police said a flare that ignited the fire and was used by the band for visual effects was meant for outdoor use, the club's emergency exit signs were not working and the only available exit was too small.
Outraged Brazilians blame what they see as lax regulation and corrupt officials for the tragedy. There are fears that similar fires could break out at other clubs and public venues, especially as the country gears up to host the soccer World Cup next year and the Olympic Games in 2016.
Sensitivity is also growing in the run-up to next month's Carnival celebrations, which feature throngs of unruly revelers in parades and street parties in cities across the country.
As funerals and an official investigation proceeded, government officials and lawmakers pressed for tougher laws. President Dilma Rousseff, who visited Santa Maria over the weekend, urged local officials on Monday for more rigor in enforcing safety regulations.
Cities across the country quickly responded.
"We were all evidently shocked by the Santa Maria tragedy," Bosco Saraiva, the acting mayor of Manaus, a city of 2 million people in the Amazon region, told Reuters. "Yesterday we started a total cleanup."
The campaign featured club inspections and city authorities closed 17 because of fire hazards and expired permits. Americana, a city in the southeastern state of Sao Paulo, issued a blanket order for all nightclubs to shut down temporarily while new safety standards are discussed.
Brasilia and other cities including Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have also deployed inspectors. In Salvador, Brazil's third-biggest city, the mayor ordered inspections of all entertainment venues, including Carnival installations now being erected.
Safety experts have criticized carnival floats and decorations in the past because they are often made with paper, plastics and other highly flammable materials.
'Somebody has to be responsible'
Cries of "Justice!" rose from a crowd of 15,000 people who marched through the center of Santa Maria on Monday night. Marchers carried flowers to a local gym that has served as a morgue and funeral parlor since the fire early on Sunday.
The death of a 21-year-old man at a hospital in nearby Porto Alegre raised the death toll to 235, authorities said on Tuesday. An additional 121 people were still hospitalized, 83 of whom were in critical condition.
Most of the dead were students suffocated by toxic fumes that rapidly filled the club after the flare set fire to soundproofing material on the ceiling. Others were trampled as they stampeded toward the sole exit of the "Kiss" nightclub, whose permits were under review.
Witnesses said club bouncers initially blocked the exit because they thought fleeing customers were trying to leave without paying for their drinks.
Families of the victims demanded explanations.
"Somebody has to be responsible," said Elaine Marques Goncalves, who lost one son in the fire and has another critically injured.
"I will not get my son's life back, but I want the authorities to investigate and act, for the sake of other young people," she said in a video interview on the website of the O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper.
Police have detained the two owners of the club and two members of the band whose performance led to the blaze. No charges have been filed against them, and prosecutors said they could be held for up to five days for questioning.
The popular club was authorized to hold 690 people and was believed to have been packed with about 1,000 revelers at the time of the fire, police said.
Santa Maria's police chief, Marcelo Arigony, said the band had bought a $1.25 outdoor flare at a local shop instead of spending $35 on a flare for indoor use. He said the club's fire extinguisher tags were either expired or falsified.
"Any child could tell the place wasn't safe," Arigony told a news conference.
Experts say Brazilian safety laws seem sufficient on paper but that enforcement is weak and codes can vary from state to state.
The Kiss nightclub appeared to have no fire escape, no alarm and no sprinklers. Experts said the soundproofing material that caught fire was banned.
"Inspection in this country is a joke. It's time for that to change," said the owner of several nightclubs in Sao Paulo, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of his position.
© Thomson Reuters 2013
My comment left in response to the above article:
It seems the first to be charged should be the city official(s) who did not shut down the business until compliance with safety codes was effectuated! What a laugh! Safety codes, that can be traded for a bribe, most anytime!
Such safety measures should place the police department in the loop, so these could see that the business was not in operation until given a green light by the building inspection department responsible!
Can anyone imagine such dereliction of duty anywhere in the USA? It would NEVER happen! Yet, it is the Brazilian who is quick to point to the minimal failing we may here have!
Mercy! I have lived in Brazil, and what we have here in the USA in immeasurable amount is order and respect for the law, which is flaunted disgracefully in Brazil! Start putting these government officials in jail and see how compliance can be achieved in this a most lawless country!!
- Massacre de Conneticut: depoimento de uma brasileira
- Brazil's national motto: "ORDEM E PROGRESSO": A REAL JOKE