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Four convicted over blaze that killed 242
(BBC NEWS) A Brazilian court has sentenced four people to lengthy prison terms over the deaths of 242 club-goers in a fire during a party in 2013.
The blaze began when members of a band performing at the Kiss nightclub, in the southern city of Santa Maria, lit flares which set light to the ceiling.
There was a stampede and most of the victims died through smoke inhalation.
The two owners of the club and two band members were found guilty of murder and attempted murder.
A police investigation said sparks from a flare lit by the Gurizada Fandangueira band on stage had set alight the insulation material in the nightclub which in turn produced the toxic fumes.
According to the findings, the venue had no functioning fire extinguishers and poor emergency signage. Officials found there were only two emergency exits.
The fire happened during a university party, and most of the victims were students between 17 and 30 years old. More than 600 people were injured.
The trial heard evidence from 14 survivors and 19 other witnesses. Proceedings were broadcast live on television and other media platforms, attracting widespread public attention.
Kátia Giane Pacheco Siqueira, a former Kiss employee and one of the survivors, gave emotional testimony as she described the 21 days she had spent in hospital with burns on 40% of her body.
“I was screaming that I do not want to die,” she recalled. She also said the policy of the nightclub was: “The more people inside, the better.”
Elissandro Spohr and Mauro Hoffmann, the nightclub owners, were sentenced to 22 and 19 years in prison respectively. Band members Marcelo de Jesus dos Santos and Luciano Bonilha Leão were given a jail term of 18 years each.
However, the four were immediately released and will remain free while their lawyers appeal.
The disaster, one of Brazil’s deadliest fires, led to a review of safety regulations in nightclubs and similar venues across the country.