Brazil police blame toxic foam for 235 deaths in night club
SANTA MARIA (REUTERS) - A highly flammable foam was responsible for the death of 235 people in a nightclub in southern Brazil last weekend, filling the venue with a thick poisonous smoke within three minutes, police investigators said on Thursday.
The toxic soundproofing foam, responsible for the illnesses of many survivors, may have been the Kiss club's greatest hazard, according to police in Santa Maria, who also faulted broken fire extinguishers and a single, obstructed exit for the tragedy.
"If it weren't for this material, no one would have died,"said Santa Maria police chief Marcelo Arigony, holding a piece of foam, which was installed without a flame retardant coating. "In parts of the club without the foam, almost nothing burned."
Police are investigating whether city officials were negligent in allowing the club to operate. As part of a separate criminal investigation, police have also detained the club's owners and two members of the band, suspected by police of starting the blaze with a cheap flare early on Sunday morning.