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Disco Fire in Brazil Kills 6, Injures 341

South America: Blaze is caused by pyrotechnics show. The music hall had no emergency exits, officials say.

November 25, 2001|From Reuters

SAO PAULO, Brazil — A fire at a music hall with no emergency exits killed six people and injured 341 of 1,500 revelers early Saturday, hospital officials and the fire department said.

Fire Department spokesman Jerpel Vazp de Souza said 20 people were in critical condition after the fire in Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais state.

"The number of dead could rise. I believe it will," he said. "If the fire department had done an inspection . . . it [the venue] would never have been allowed to open."

A pyrotechnic show before the second of three music acts started the fire, which spread swiftly across the soundproofing on the ceiling and drapes, and on the walls, De Souza said.

"The whole place caught fire very quickly, and it had no emergency exits," he said.

Local television station Globo spoke to one man, his face blackened by smoke and dust, who had tried to break a window to escape before turning back and getting caught in the melee.

"Then the lights went out and I fell to the floor. All I could feel were people stepping all over me," he said.

Joao Bosco da Silva, an administrator at the nearby Joao XXII hospital, which treated most of the injured, said, "Some people were burned, some suffered toxic smoke inhalation and some were injured in the stampede to get out."

De Souza said an investigation was underway into how the venue's owners got authorization to use it as a dance hall without a fire inspection. The use of pyrotechnics in a closed environment is forbidden, he said.

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