UK & World News
Brazil Nightclub Fire: March To Demand Justice
Thousands of people have taken part in a march to demand justice after a nightclub fire killed more than 200 people in Brazil.
Many of the mourners dressed in white and carried photographs of those who lost their lives. Others struggled to hold back their tears.
"I believe that it's not just me but everyone in this world who has a heart has been affected (by the fire), anyone who has family, who has a friend," said Jose Luiz Fagundes, a resident of Santa Maria, the southern city where the blaze happened.
Local resident Marcia Ferreira lost 25 friends in the fire and said she attended the Kiss nightclub regularly.
"I don't have words to describe this, they were 25 of my friends," she said.
Mourners also released white balloons into the night sky during the vigil and held a moment of silence for the 231 victims.
Some demanded answers about the safety measures at the nightclub, where hundreds were trapped after the ceiling became engulfed in flames.
They chanted "Justice" as they marched in the procession.
Police have arrested the owners of the club and two members of the band Gurizada Fandangueira. Authorities say the group's pyrotechnics show triggered the blaze.
No charges were filed against the four men, but prosecutors said they could be held for up to five days as police press them for clues as to how the fire caused so many deaths.
Most of those who died were suffocated by toxic fumes that rapidly filled the Kiss nightclub after the band set off a flare at about 2:30am on Sunday, authorities said.
The club's operating licence was under review for renewal after expiring last year.
Witnesses said bouncers initially blocked the only functioning exit because they believed fleeing customers were trying to avoid paying their bar tabs.
Survivor Kelly Rebello de Silva said a black toxic smoke filled the nightclub and panicked partygoers began trampling each other.
The 21-year-old said the scene inside the club was reminiscent of a "horror movie".
"Everyone was pushing and shoving," another survivor, Taynne Vendruscolo, told reporters.
"The fire started out small, but within seconds it exploded. Those who were close to the stage could not get out."
The number of dead was revised down to 231 from 233 as officials said some names had been counted twice.
By Monday night, 129 people were still in hospital - 76 of them in serious condition, according to state health services.
Elaine Marques Goncalves lost her son Deivis in the fire. Another son who was at the nightclub, Gustavo, was barely alive after suffering two cardiac arrests caused by smoke inhalation.
She learned of the blaze after the mother of her sons' friends called her.
"My boys were not home and I had no news. I turned on the TV - the tragedy was all over the television," she said at the makeshift morgue.
"All I knew was they had gone to a club, I didn't know which one. I kept saying: 'Where do I start? Where do I go?'"
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