Fire engulfs Brazil’s Kiss nightclub, scores dead
A fire at a nightclub in the southern Brazil university town of Santa Maria early Sunday morning has left more than 200 people dead, according to a CNN report today.
The fire at the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria killed at least 233 people, either due to smoke inhalation of being trampled in the mad rush to the door. The death tally has been lowered slightly from an initial figure of 245 earlier.
The blaze has also left nearly 100 people hospitalized, some severely.
In one account, “The toxic smoke made people lose their sense of direction so they were unable to find their way to the exit. At least 50 bodies were found inside a bathroom. Apparently they confused the bathroom door with the exit door”, according to the Washington Post.
The club was apparently filled to capacity when the fire broke out around 2:30 am. Although the investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing; survivors, police and firefighters gave the same account of a band member setting the ceiling’s soundproofing ablaze with pyrotechnics, very reminiscent of the 2003 nightclub fire in Rhode Island where pyrotechnics used by the heavy metal band Great White ignited a blaze that killed 100 people.
President Dilma Rousseff, who started her political career in the Rio Grande do Sul state where the fire happened, cut short a visit to Chile to return to visit the scene. Before leaving Chile, she broke out in tears as she pledged government help for the victims and their families, according to Reuters.
The band playing at the Kiss was Gurizada Fandangueira, local Brazilian country music group.
Santa Maria is a city and municipality (município) in the central region of Rio Grande do Sul, which as of 2007, had a population of 263,000.
Santa Maria is home to the Federal University of Santa Maria as well as a number of other private universities and colleges.
According to WaPo, Santa Maria Mayor Cezar Schirmer declared a 30-day mourning period, and Tarso Genro, the governor of the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, said officials were investigating the cause of the disaster. Genro tweeted calling the day, “Sad Sunday”.