Fire Breaks Out In Brazilian Nightclub, Hundreds Dead

Credit: AP

Hundreds of people are dead or injured after a fire swept through a Brazilian nightclub overnight.

The death toll currently stands at 232 after officials spent hours pulling bodies from the building. That number is down from earlier reports of 245.

Col. Adilomar Silva, the regional coordinator of civil defense, told CNN that smoke inhalation appears to be the cause of death for the majority accounted for so far.

The Kiss nightclub, located in college town Santa Maria at the southern tip of Brazil, was at full capacity early Sunday morning, according to officials. A mass panic reportedly broke out among clubgoers as the flames spread, with 2,000 or more people frantically trying to escape through the few exits available. People were reportedly trampled in the chaos.

The fire started at 2 a.m. after the acoustic insulation caught fire. Officials are not yet blaming the pyrotechnic show that was going on when the flames broke out, but if it is ultimately ruled as the cause, it would be far from the first time such a show caused this sort of tragedy. In a Rhode Island club in 2003, a fire from a pyrotechnic show engulfed the building within five minutes, killing more than 90 people. A similar incident occurred the following year in an Argentina nightclub, and again at a Russian club in 2009.