The death toll at a nightclub fire in Brazil in the early hours of this morning has reached 245, with emergency officials fearing the death toll may rise. The fire started when a band’s fireworks set the building ablaze causing a stampede as the partygoers stampeded toward blocked and overcrowded exits. About 200 more people were injured in the fire.
Most of the victims were students who died from asphyxiation, Andre Diefenbach, an official at the municipality’s police department told Bloomberg. Others were crushed in the stampede.
CNN reports that the club, called Kiss Nightclub in Santa Maria contained about 2,000 when the fire broke out which was double the maximum capacity of 1,000. In the ensuing chaos, most of the people rushed towards the exit and the bouncers, who at first thought those fleeing were trying to skip out on bar tabs, initially blocked patrons from leaving. The security staff relented only when they saw flames engulfing the ceiling.
In the television footage, many people were seen sobbing outside the club before dawn, while shirtless firefighters used sledge hammers and axes to knock down an exterior wall to open up an exit.
CNN further reports that the blaze broke out during a weekend when students were celebrating the end of summer. Students at many Brazilian universities return to school on Monday. Santa Maria is home to the Federal University of Santa Maria as well as a number of other private universities and colleges.
It is really a sad day in Brazil and a huge loss to many families. May their souls rest in peace.
Photo Credit: CNN