More than 150 people died early Sunday when a fire tore through a nightclub in the southern Brazilian city of Santa Maria during a student party, police said.
“We have confirmed more than 150 victims,” Santa Maria police commissioner Sandro Meinerz told Globo television.
The death toll from the inferno stood initially at 70 but rapidly increased as firefighters searched the charred remains of the establishment named “Kiss.”
Pyrotechnics gone wrong
Details of the tragedy were still sketchy. But according to media reports, the fire broke out after 2:00 am (0930 IST) when the nightclub was hosting a university party featuring a rock band.
The band used pyrotechnics as part of its show, a local newspaper reported on its website. The paper said the popular club in the university town was packed with between 300 and 400 party goers when the fire erupted.
Santa Maria fire chief Guido de Melo said there was panic in the aftermath of the fire and many revellers were trampled or died from smoke inhalation. “The main cause of death was asphyxiation,” de Melo was quoted as saying by a newspaper.
“We have just taken the fire under control,” a local fire department official was quoted as saying. “Now we are removing the bodies.”
“This is a sad Sunday,” local governer Tarso Genro is quoted by the paper as saying in a Twitter message. “We are taking all possible passive and active measures.”
The town is home to the Federal University of Santa Maria.AFP