* U.S. shipping cyanide treatment kits to Brazil- ministry
* Death toll climbs to 236 as victim succumbs to injuries
* Doctors say more could develop respiratory problems
By Brian Winter and Eduardo Simões
SAO PAULO, Feb 1 The U.S. government is shipping
emergency medical supplies to Brazil to treat survivors of a
deadly nightclub fire who are suffering from exposure to cyanide
gas released in the blaze, the Brazilian health ministry said on
Officials say 119 people remain hospitalized after Sunday's
fire at the Kiss nightclub in southern Brazil that killed 236.
Brazilian doctors have said cyanide was among the toxic
chemicals produced when fire consumed the soundproofing foam on
the club's ceiling, contributing to the high number of
Brazil's health ministry urgently requested 140 of the
cyanide-treatment kits containing the medicine hydroxocobalamin,
a health ministry spokeswoman said.
A source told Reuters the medicine, which is not available
in Brazil, was made by a division of Pfizer and
purchased by the U.S. Southern Military Command. The kits should
arrive on a commercial flight Saturday morning and will be
immediately dispatched to hospitals in and around the city of
The treatment should offset cyanide poisoning, allowing more
oxygen into the victims' bodies, but will do little to address a
range of other toxins that they likely inhaled, according to a
health official who asked not to be named.
"This will improve their chances, but it probably won't
treat the main issue," he said.
Also Friday, a judge in southern Brazil ordered 30 more days
of detention for the owners of a nightclub and band members
accused of starting the blaze with an outdoor flare that ignited
overhead soundproofing. The flammable synthetic foam caught fire
and within minutes spread toxic fumes throughout the venue.
Most of the victims died after inhaling the fumes,
investigators concluded on Thursday.
Many of those in nearby hospitals, half of whom are on
respirators, have developed scorched airways and inflamed lungs
from the poisonous vapors. Authorities fear more survivors could
begin showing symptoms of cyanide inhalation.
A 20-year-old woman succumbed to her injuries late Thursday,
pushing up the death toll from the country's second most deadly
fire ever. Civil defense authorities in Rio Grande do Sul, the
state where Santa Maria is located, said the victim suffered a
heart attack while struggling with injuries that included burns
on more than half her body.
Police are investigating safety violations that led to the
disaster early on Sunday, leading a judge to extend the
detention of two owners of the club and two band members for 30
The judge considered preliminary testimony from an employee
blaming club owners for faulty extinguishers and carelessness
about overcrowding. The owner of a fireworks store testified
that he had warned the band's producer that the flare was banned
for indoor use.
Lawyers for the club owners and band members have maintained
their innocence. Police have not yet charged any of the four
detainees, but said at minimum they are likely to face
Prosecutors are also investigating city and fire officials
to determine if they were negligent in allowing the club to
remain open despite safety violations including broken exit
signs and blocked access to the club's only exit.
The factors led to a stampede that crushed some of the
victims and kept others from fleeing the flames and toxic smoke.