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Santa Maria University Students Return To Class One Week After Deadly Nightclub Fire

posted Feb 4, 2013, 1:52 PM by Mpelembe   [ updated Feb 4, 2013, 1:53 PM ]

Students return to class in the southern Brazilian town of Santa Maria, one week after the nightclub fire that killed 237 people. Meanwhile, officials conduct safety inspections at venues throughout the country.

SANTA MARIA, RIO GRANDE DO SUL, BRAZIL (FEBRUARY 04, 2013)  (TV GLOBO) -  A week after 237 people, almost all university students, died in a devastating nightclub fire, their classmates in the southern Brazilian town of Santa Maria returned to school on Monday (February 4).

Santa Maria University has been in a state of mourning following the fire, which claimed the lives of so many members of the student body.

One professor lost 15 of his students.

Joseane Andrade, whose son attends Santa Maria University, said the pain caused by the tragedy is taking a toll on the city's young population.

"Today they are crying. They are hurting and they are way too young to be hurting," she said.

On Monday, some students marched to class in silence, while musicians of the university's orchestra played music in memory of the victims.

"It's a semester which will end in a very unusual way. We will have to work very hard at being flexible and introduce alternative activities, so we can remember the people that passed away in a positive way, and what they represented to the university, with their dreams for the future and their willingness to grow," said Santa Maria University's Vice-President, Dalvan José Reinert.

Before the beginning of class, on Monday morning, thousands gathered on the university campus for a religious service.

The Santa Maria nightclub fire has shed a light on safety issues in public venues throughout Brazil. Over the last few days, hundreds of privately owned public spaces have been temporarily closed for not complying with safety rules.

Officials performing inspections at various nightspots throughout the country said they found a number of irregularities that could pose a serious threats in case of an emergency.

"When the panic sets in, someone might fall trying to get out, and then someone might come behind and trip, generating even more confusion," said one firefighter who found a set of steps right outside an emergency exit.

Club-goers also seem more aware, putting safety above everything else.

"I won't just go to any place from now on, I will be more cautious and go to where it's safest so I can have fun without any regrets," said this reveler.

Brazil will host a string of major world sporting events over the next few years, and officials are rushing to assure the international community, that it can host global events amid safe conditions.