A fire swept through a popular nightclub in southern Brazil on Sunday, killing at least 245 people, officials said.
The death toll was expected to climb as firefighters continued to pull bodies from the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria, said Colonel Adilomar Silva, the regional coordinator of civil defence.
Most of those killed appeared to have died of smoke inhalation, he said. Hundreds are believed to have been injured, though an exact count was not immediately available.
Many people were trampled in the panic to leave the club, said one security guard. Police described it as the worst tragedy ever to affect Brazi’s Rio Grande do Sul state.
The fire started after the acoustic insulation in the Kiss nightclub caught fire, Silva said. There was a pyrotechnics show going on inside the club when the fire started.
Authorities stopped short of blaming it for the blaze, saying the cause was still under investigation. The building only had one emergency exit, and firefighters had to make a hole in the wall to help people escape.
>> In 2004, a fire killed 194 people at an overcrowded working-class nightclub in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
>> A blaze at the Lame Horse nightclub in Russia, broke out in December, 2009, when an indoor fireworks display ignited a plastic ceiling, killing 152.
>> A nightclub fire in the US state of Rhode Island in 2003 killed 100 people.