231 die in blaze

Rushing victim of nightclub fire to medical attention.

BRASILIA — Brazil has declared three days of national mourning for 231 people killed in a nightclub fire in the southern city of Santa Maria.

The fire reportedly started after a member of a band playing at the Kiss nightclub lit a flare on stage.

Authorities say most of the victims were students who died of smoke inhalation. The first funerals took place this morning.

Three people were arrested over the fire, unconfirmed local reports said.

Police today arrested two musicians from the band, Gurizada Fandangueira, and one of the club’s owners, the website of the Diario de Santa Maria newspaper reported. A fourth person was being sought, the paper said.

The fire is the deadliest in Brazil in five decades.

Some are walking around, carrying trays with food, fruit and biscuits. Others have offered to clean the gym’s toilets as the last bodies await burial.

Brazil postponed a ceremony due today in the capital, Brasilia, to mark 500 days to the 2014 football World Cup. In Santa Maria, 30 days of mourning were declared.

President Dilma Rousseff, who cut short a visit to Chile, has been visiting survivors at the city’s Caridade hospital along with government ministers.

“It is a tragedy for all of us,” she said.

More than 100 people were being treated in hospital, mostly for smoke inhalation. (BBC)

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