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Brazil nightclub owner blames country for fire

January 30, 2013 • World News


**CORRECTS GENDER OF MOURNER ON RIGHT**A woman weeps as she is comforted by a man during the funeral of Gustavo Goncalves, the most recent victim of the Kiss nightclub fatal fire raising the death toll to 235, in Santa Maria, Brazil, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013. A fast-moving fire roared through the crowded, windowless nightclub in this southern Brazilian city early Sunday. The first funeral services were held Monday for the victims. Most of the dead were college students 18 to 21 years old, but they also included some minors. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

SANTA MARIA, Brazil (AP) — The owner of a nightclub in southern Brazil where more than 230 people died in a fire last weekend deflected blame to “the whole country,” as well as to architects and inspectors charged with making sure the building was safe, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Attorney Jader Marques said his client, Elissandro Spohr, “regretted having ever been born” because of his grief over the fire, but still blamed Sunday’s tragedy on “a succession of errors made by the whole country.”

Police investigating the blaze have said it likely started when a country music band performing at the Kiss nightclub in the college town of Santa Maria lit a flare, which ignited flammable soundproofing foam on the ceiling. That initial error was compounded by the near-total lack of emergency infrastructure such as a fire alarms or sprinkler systems, police have said. The club also had only one working door and a faulty fire extinguisher.

Marques insisted in an interview with The Associated Press that “my client’s responsibility is having trusted too much in the inspectors and in those responsible for the construction.”

“Hindsight is 20-20,” he said, stressing that public officials had signed off on the club.

The number of injured jumped to 143 Wednesday after 22 people were admitted to hospitals with respiratory problems after having escaped the club apparently unharmed. Brazil Health Minister Alexandre Padilha has urged the fire’s survivors to Login to read more

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