Sixteen face charges over Brazil nightclub fire

Police officers search the premises of the Kiss nightclub in January 2013 Investigators have been combing the nightclub for evidence

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Sixteen people will face criminal charges in connection with a deadly fire at a Brazil nightclub in January.

More than 240 people were killed when insulation foam caught fire and spread toxic fumes through the packed venue in the southern town of Santa Maria.

Police said the blaze started when the singer of a band held a firework close to the ceiling, which then caught fire.

The singer, the band's producer, the club's owners, and fire officials will be charged with negligent homicide.

A police report published on Friday said dozens of eyewitnesses reported seeing the singer on stage holding the firework which triggered the blaze.

'Grotesque'

Attempts by the singer and a security guard to extinguish the fire failed when the extinguisher they used did not work, the witnesses described.

Many said that the security guards at the Kiss nightclub at first tried to stop people from leaving the club.

The fact that the club only had one door was described by the investigators compiling the report as a "grotesque safety failure". Escape routes and lighting in the club were also found to be inadequate.

The club was found to be overcrowded. Eyewitnesses reporting more than 1,000 revellers packed into the venue, which had a licence for fewer than 800.

All of the 241 victims were found to have died of asphyxiation as toxic fumes from the insulation foam quickly spread through the club. Police believe that five of those killed were people who had gone into the club to try to rescue others.

More than 600 people were injured.

The fire, and the lack of safety precautions at the venue, have prompted widespread concern about Brazil's ability to host major sporting events in the next four years.

The 2014 World Cup is set to be played in 12 Brazilian cities, while the 2016 Olympics are to take place in Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil's Congress is set to revise legislation in an attempt to strengthen safety regulations ahead of the World Cup.

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