Pope stunned by Brazilian night club tragedy

Vatican City, Jan 28, 2013 / 10:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Benedict XVI is shocked at the deaths of 233 people at a Brazilian night club on Sunday and is praying for the wounded and the families and friends of those who passed away.

In a telegram sent to Archbishop Helio Adelar Rubert of the Santa Maria Archdiocese, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said that the Pope is "shocked by the tragic death of hundreds of young people" and offers his "deepest condolences to the families of the victims, sharing in the sorrow of all those who mourn them."

Pope Benedict also "entrusts the dead to God, the Father of mercy, and prays for the comfort and restoration of the wounded and for the courage and consolation of all those affected by the tragedy," the message says.

"He sends his apostolic blessing to all those who are suffering and those who are assisting them."

Tragedy struck at around 3:00 a.m. on Sunday at the Kiss nightclub when pyrotechnics set off by the band Gurizada Fandangueria apparently caught the ceiling on fire.

Rodrigo Martins a guitar player in the band told Radio Gaucha that the group "had played around five songs when I looked up and noticed the roof was burning."

"It might have happened because of the Sputnik, the machine we use to create a luminous effect with sparks. It's harmless, we never had any trouble with it," he said. "When the fire started, a guard passed us a fire extinguisher, the singer tried to use it but it wasn't working."

The fire spread rapidly and caused panic in the venue, but most of those who perished died from asphyxiation.

Police inspector Ranolfo Vieira Junior told the media at a Jan. 28 news conference that three individuals were arrested on a temporary basis as part of the investigation into the fire and a fourth person was being sought.

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