Posted On Monday, January 28, 2013 at 08:22:18 AM
Brasilia - A fire swept through a crowded nightclub in southern Brazil early Sunday, killing at least 245 people, after a band’s pyrotechnics show set the establishment ablaze.
Sandro Meinerz, spokesman for the Santa Maria police, said the fire broke out at the Kiss nightclub while a band was performing and a member of the band or its production team ignited a flare, which then set fire to the ceiling.
The fire spread “in seconds”, and at least 200 people were injured. It was reported that a firecracker was lit on stage causing the acoustic insulation in the ceiling to catch fire. Diario de Santa Maria reported that the fire started around 2 am.
Rodrigo Moura, whom the paper identified as a security guard at the club, said it was at its maximum capacity of between 1,000 and 2,000, and partygoers were pushing and shoving to escape. Ezekiel Corte Real, 23, was quoted by the paper as saying that he helped people to escape. “I just got out because I’m very strong,” he said.
Bodies were still being removed from the Kiss nightclub, Major Gerson da Rosa Ferreira, who was leading rescue efforts at the scene for the military police, said Sunday evening.
Ferreira said 159 bodies had been removed from the club, and the death toll was likely to rise. He said the victims died of asphyxiation or from being trampled as terrified revellers ran for their lives.
A video posted on Facebook showed paramedics treating the injured outside the club while surrounded by bodies. An official told Radio Gaucha that a truck carrying 70 bodies had arrived at the Municipal Sports Center, which was being used as an improvised morgue.
Worst fires at clubs, Gigs
Dec 25, 2000, Mall at Luoyang, China: Fire engulfs building workers and X’mas party at discotheque; 309 dead
Feb 20, 2003, Rhode Island: Fireworks during heavy metal concert at Station nightclub; 100 dead
Dec 30, 2004, Buenos Aires: Fire at New Year party in Republica Cromagnon nightclub; 192 dead
Dec 5, 2009, Russia: Fireworks ignite wicker ceiling at Lame Horse nightclub; 155 dead
► Among the worst fires in Brazil was at a circus in Niteroi in 1961 that killed 323
► Among the deadliest ever fires at a nightclub was at the Coconut Grove in Boston in 1942 which killed 492.