Jan 27 2013
A fire has swept through a crowded nightclub in southern Brazil, killing at least 245 people and leaving more than 200 injured, police and firefighters said.
Police Major Cleberson Braida told local news media that the 245 bodies were brought for identification to a gymnasium in the city of Santa Maria.
That toll would make it one of the deadliest nightclub fires more than a decade.
The cause of the fire is not yet known, officials said.
Civil Police and regional government spokesman Marcelo Arigoni told Radio Gaucha earlier that the total number of victims is still unclear and there may be hundreds injured,
The newspaper Diario de Santa Maria reported that the fire started at around 2am at the Kiss club in the city at the southern tip of Brazil, near the borders with Argentina and Uruguay.
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.
Santa Maria is a major university city with a population of around a quarter of a million.