29/01

“A Heavy Heart”

By Geisha Bar

I had wanted to do a light hearted look at Australia Day this week but could not let the events in a Brazilian Nightclub pass by without a word or sorrow and of warning.

For those not up to date with the what happened, a band on stage in a Brazilian club set off pyrotechnics which all too quickly became a raging inferno, killing 231 and injury scores more.

Firstly my heart goes out to those students (it was a student party that night) who had so much life ahead of them, snuffed out in an instant. I feel sickened thinking about the events that took place.

Secondly let me say that I feel lucky to be in a non-developing country where there is tight regulation on buildings, particularly public ones. This sort of thing happens too often in developing countries but I am actually surprised it doesn’t happen more given all the “code violations” they have to reduce costs. Imagine curtains carpet and wood not treated with fire retardant to kindle flames. Improper paint that gives off toxic fumes. No working fire extinguishers or sprinkler system to stop the rapid spread of the flames. No emergency exits, just the one at the front for everyone to squeeze through. Couple that with a venue well over what it’s licenced numbers should be….It is like a scene from a final destination film.

Thirdly I turn to anger. Not only at the irresponsible owners who have been arrested  over this and will probably spend the rest of their lives in jail but also the government who do not regulate and shut down places like this (and there are many) instead waiting for the inevitable to occur and then finger pointing the blame away from themselves. Bear in mind that Brazil will be host to millions of tourists for the World Cup and the Olympics in coming years and these venues will be full to overflowing…..will this tragedy spark a change ? I wouldn’t hold my breath as the previous ones haven’t.

Finally, I am sorry to write such a down article this week, but my heart has been heavy. I have a lot of Brazilian friends here in Perth and this could so easily have been them. It could also happen to any of the dodgier venues in South East Asia or just about any of the venues in the rest of Latin America. There is no silver lining to this story. It is entirely one of despair. Be wary when next you travel and appreciate how safe it is here at home….remember it is probably cheap for a reason