Members of band believed to be responsible for Brazil nightclub fire are arrested as funerals are held for victims

The blaze killed over 230 people at a nightclub

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Funerals have been held for some of the victims of a fire that killed over 230 people at a nightclub in southern Brazil.

The funerals came as Brazilian police confirmed they had made three arrests and are seeking a fourth person in connection with the blaze.

Those arrested are thought to be Elissandro Spohr, a co-owner of the club and two band members who were on stage when the fire broke out and used pyrotechnics in their act.

As the names of the dead began to be released, Inspector Ranolfo Vieira Junior told a press conference that the arrests are for investigative purposes.

He says the detentions have five-day limits.

Witnesses recounted a scene of horror that was “like something out of a movie” during the nightclub fire.

The tragedy happened in the early hours of Sunday morning during a student night at the Kiss nightclub in the town of Santa Maria, in Brazil’s southern Rio Grande do Sul state.

Police have said that, based on witness testimonies, investigators are certain that the band's pyrotechnics show ignited sound insulation on the ceiling, causing the blaze.

Survivors told of chaos as hundreds of partygoers scrambled for the exit as thick black smoke filled the club. Most of the victims died of asphyxiation or from being trampled in the panic, police said.

“Those who were far from the doors had simply no chance, said clubber Matheus Bortolotto, who went back into the club to find survivors. 

“A girl died in my arms, I felt her heart stop beating. It was like something out of a movie. The ambulances simply could not cope with all the wounded.”

The fire started soon after 2.30am when between 400 and 500 people were in the club listening to one of the night’s two bands open their set.