Brazil nightclub fire toll rises to 237

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Rio de Janeiro, Feb 5 (IANS/EFE) The toll from the fire last month at the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria, a city in Brazil's Rio Grande do Sul state, has risen to 237, health officials said.

The figure was revised upward following the death of Bruno Portella Fricks, a 22-year-old businessman, the Rio Grande do Sul Health Secretariat said.

Fricks, who had just earned a business administration degree, died Saturday night at a hospital in Porto Alegre, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul, the secretariat said.

The young man went to a party at the club with his 20-year-old girlfriend, Jessica Duarte, who remains hospitalized in Porto Alegre, the Zero Hora newspaper reported.

Nearly 100 people remain hospitalized, the secretariat said, adding that 16 patients were released Saturday.

A total of 35 patients are on respirators in intensive care units, the secretariat said.

Many of the victims were students at the Federal University in Santa Maria who were attending a party at the club.

The blaze started around 2.30 a.m. Jan 27, when fireworks were set off inside the club.

The fire spread quickly and caused chemicals, especially cyanide, to be released from acoustics materials, police said.

The nightclub fire in Santa Maria was the worst blaze in Brazil in more than 50 years, media reports said.

The worst fire in Brazil's history occurred Dec 17, 1961, during a circus performance in the city of Niteroi, where at least 503 people, the majority of them children, died.

--IANS/EFE

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