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Brazil extends detention of disco fire suspects

A relative of a victim weeps by flowers put in front of the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria on January 29, 2013
A relative of a victim weeps by flowers put in front of the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria, southern Brazil on January 29, 2013. Brazilian authorities on Friday extended for 30 days the detention of four people blamed for a deadly disco fire that left 236

Brazilian authorities on Friday extended for 30 days the detention of four people blamed for a deadly disco fire that left 236 people dead in the south of the country.

A court in Rio Grande do Sul state said new statements made by witnesses revealed that the actions of the four detainees could lead to charges of "homicide by asphyxia."

The court decision came in response to a police request.

The Santa Maria tragedy is a huge embarrassment for Brazil as it prepares to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Authorities have been holding since Monday the two owners of the nightclub in Santa Maria and two musicians of the Gurizada Fandangueira group who who allegedly took part in the ill-fated pyrotechnic show.

Police have linked the fire to a flare musicians bought for the show "that they knew was designed exclusively for outside use," but which was much cheaper than indoor flares.

The authorities have also cited security violations at the club, including a lack of emergency lights, fire extinguishers that did not work, and an overcrowded dance floor.

In the wake of the fire, several Brazilian cities announced more rigorous checks of clubs, bars and concert halls.

In Rio de Janeiro, where preparations are underway for the famed Carnival next week, firefighters said 127 night spots were shut down for failing to meet safety requirements.