More than 200 people are dead after a fast-moving fire swept through a nightclub in the southern Brazilian city of Santa Maria, a college town near the borders with Argentina and Uruguay.
Witnesses say the lone emergency exit at the Kiss nightclub was already blocked by the bodies of the dead as people looked for a way out, many of them succumbing to the deadly smoke. The fire appears to have been sparked after a member of a band playing at the club lit a flare on-stage, similar to the way a nightclub fire in Rhode Island started – that fire killed 100 people in 2003.
LISTEN to the sounds of the crowds and sirens outside the nightclub after the blaze:
The fire was so fast moving that firefighters could do little to help those trapped inside the club, which also left more than 100 more people injured. Early counts put the death toll over 240, but that was later revised down by local officials, who said they counted 232 people at a makeshift morgue set up inside a local gymnasium. Local reports also suggest that the nightclub was filled beyond its capacity at the time of the fire.
The toll makes this the deadliest nightclub fire in more than a decade, since 309 people died after a welding accident triggered a fire at a disco in the Chinese city of Luoyang. In addition to the fire at the Great White show in Rhode Island, another 165 people died in a fire at Kentucky’s Beverly Hills Supper Club in 1977. The deadliest nightclub blaze in U.S. history killed 492 people at the Cocoanut Grove in Boston in 1942. That fire led to the enactment of laws and codes requiring sprinkler systems and emergency exits.
WATCH more on the deadly nightclub fire: