Santa Maria, Brazil – In our continuing our coverage of the nightclub fire that killed hundreds Saturday night in Santa Maria, Brazil, we can now report that the death toll has shrunk some from the estimated 245 to a confirmed 232, though more than 100 are still injured.
At least 500 people were believed to be inside the Kiss club when the fire started around 2am, reports MSN. Witnesses told police that the band performing onstage lit flares and held them up, setting the ceiling on fire.
Dr. Paulo Afonso Beltrame, a medical school professor who helped treat the victims, said that 90 percent of the Santa Maria nightclub casualties died of asphyxiation, while others were trampled. One security guard said that the scene of the crushing crowds was like a horror film.
Globo reports that patrons of the Brazilian nightclub Kiss may have been trapped inside because the doors were locked. The club’s DJ has denied these claims, but witnesses who escaped said that club staff attempted to prevent the mass exodus because they thought the riot was an excuse to leave without paying.
Guards couldn’t see the stage where pyrotechnics started the blaze, and reportedly stood in front of the club’s exit with their arms extended. Once the crowd began to yell “We’re on fire! We’re on fire!” a few patrons pushed past the guards and escaped to the street.
It was a tragic scene, recalling for some The Station nightclub fire of 2003 in Rhode Island. The band Great White began their performance with pyrotechnics which set the room ablaze, causing the deaths of over 100 patrons.
Here’s an amateur video of the tragic Brazil nightclub fire. The scene outside the Kiss club in Santa Maria was pure panic and pandemonium, and the video may be disturbing to some viewers.