Vatican City, January 28 - The deaths of hundreds of young club-goers in a deadly fire in Brazil on the weekend was a great tragedy, Pope Benedict XVI said Monday in sending condolences to the grieving families. As many as 233 people died in the toxic smoke of a fire early Sunday at the Kiss nightclub in the university city of Santa Maria. Many of the victims were under 20, including some minors. The first funerals of victims were planned for Monday. The Pope said he was saddened and appalled by the "tragic deaths of hundreds of young people" and added that he felt great sympathy for their families and was "participating in their pain". Officials said the Pope was praying for the dead and injured, entrusting them to God's mercy. The blaze was set off after a member of the band Gurizada Fandangueira lit a flare on stage. Two of its members have reportedly been arrested. One of the club owners, after being hospitalized for smoke inhalation, is also now in custody, his lawyer confirmed Monday.