Mourner at tributes to nightclub blaze victims
Mourner at tributes to nightclub blaze victims

The co-owner of a Brazilian nightclub in which 235 people died in a fire tried to take his own life in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Elisandro Spohr attempted to hang himself while he was under police guard at a local hospital, following the fire at the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria.

Santa Maria police chief Lylian Carustold CNN: "Everything indicates he was going to commit suicide by hanging. He's emotionally destroyed."

Spohr has said he "regretted having ever been born" after the blaze which has triggered three days of national mourning across Brazil.

His lawyer, Jader Marques, said the fire was attributable to "a succession of errors made by the whole country".

"My client's responsibility is having trusted too much in the inspectors and in those responsible for the construction," he said.

Almost half the victims of Sunday's inferno were aged between 16 and 20.

Many victims died from smoke inhalation as they tried to escape from the packed nightclub, which had only one exit door. It is estimated the club was packed to over twice its 600-person capacity when flames broke out last weekend.

Survivors claimed bouncers prevented fleeing revellers from using exits because some had not paid for drinks. Victims were trampled during the rush for safety.

It is understood the blaze was sparked by a flare set off by a member of the band on stage at the time. It was claimed the flare was intended for outdoor use, but the band rejected buying indoor flares because they were too expensive. The flare ignited soundproof foam in the ceiling.

Thousands of people have marched in Santa Maria to demand justice. Many of them lost friends in the blaze.

Survivor Kelly Rebello said that the scene inside the club as it filled with toxic smoke recalled a "horror movie".

Another survivor said bodies were found piled up on top of one another, including the corpses of 50 people inside a bathroom they had mistakenly believed was an exit.

Spohr was taken in by police for questioning after the fire, as were co-owner Mauro Hoffman and two members of the band on stage at the time. The band's accordion player was killed in the tragedy.

More than 70 people remain in a life-threatening condition in hospital, days after the tragedy. More than 140 people are still in hospital.