Brazilian police are seeking criminal charges against 16 people in connection with a Jan. 27 nightclub fire in the southern city of Santa Maria that killed 241 people.
The lead investigator in the case, Marcelo Arigony, presented a report Friday that blames the tragedy on the owners of the Kiss nightclub, employees, a country music band that was performing at the club and firefighters responsible for carrying out inspections at the establishment.
The police are seeking murder charges against nine individuals and manslaughter charges against seven others, including Santa Maria Mayor Cezar Schirmer.
The fire broke out in the wee hours of Jan. 27 while between 800-900 people were inside the nightclub, whose capacity is just 600, according to investigators.
Police say flammable soundproofing foam on the ceiling caught fire after one of the members of the Gurizada Fandangueira band lit a flare.
Autopsies on the 234 people who died inside the club showed they perished due to asphyxiation caused by carbon monoxide and cyanide poisoning, Arigony said.
Seven others died at hospitals in Santa Maria and the Rio Grande do Sul state capital of Porto Alegre, the last of whom - a 23-year-old girl - passed away on March 7.
The two owners of the nightclub and two members of Gurizada Fandangueira have been in preventive custody since the day of the fire, Brazil’s deadliest in more than a half century.
The other five who could face murder charges are the manager and two other employees of the nightclub and a pair of firefighters responsible for ensuring the establishment complied with safety regulations.
Manslaughter charges are being sought seven others, including several city officials.