First funerals held after Brazil fire
Officials said the club’s operating licence expired in July. The owner has been questioned by police.
The lack of safety measures at the club was far from exceptional - for Brazil or elsewhere. There were death tolls of 100 or more in entertainment venue fires in Rhode Island in 2003, Argentina in 2004 and Russia in 2009.
But as the second deadliest fire in Brazil’s history, the tragedy in Santa Maria looks likely to provoke some soul-searching about the dangers of inadequate investment in infrastructure, particularly before the influx of millions for the world’s two biggest sporting events.
Many have already begun drawing a connection to wider systemic problems. The opinion writer Igor Gielow wrote that it was sad and symbolic that the tragedy occurred on the same day that the first of the venues renovated for the World Cup - the Castelao stadium in Fortaleza - staged its first game.
“This was intended to inaugurate a new phase in mass entertainment in Brazil and to sell the idea that our country has the organisational capacity to host large, global events, but reality showed its face at the nightclub Kiss,” he wrote in the Folha de Sao Paulo,
Other speculated about possible corruption or lax oversight. Reinaldo Azevedo, writing on the Veja news website, asked why the fire department had previously approved a venue with only one exit. “Our grief must also exercise wrath,” he wrote. “This is not a tragedy manufactured by chance. It is the work of a chain of negligence.”
President Michael D. Higgins sent a message of condolence today to the Brazilian president.
"From my recent visit to Brazil, I am very conscious that a large part of its spirit and energy derives from its youth. I know too how much president Rousseff values young people and the role they will play in the future development of Brazil. The fact that over 230 young people lost their lives during what should have been an enjoyable social occasion is deeply
upsetting – both for the Brazilian people and for their many friends abroad," he said.
"On my own behalf and behalf of the Irish people, I send my deepest sympathies to President Rousseff, to the families of the victims and to the people of Brazil, especially the Brazilian community who live here in Ireland."
Additonal reporting: Guardian Service