Created on: January 30, 2013 Last Updated: January 31, 2013
In a horrific fire that took place at a Brazilian nightclub over the weekend, over 230 people are dead. According to a CNN report, close to 200 of those victims have been identified. Over 90 people were also hospitalized, 14 of the individuals were reported to have severe burns.
The fire broke out in the Kiss nightclub, which is located in Santa Maria, at the southern portion of Brazil. At the time approximately 2,000 people were in the club, over the legal capacity. Capacity was on record as being 1,000, Guido de Melo, a state fire official, told the media.
According to officials, many of the fire's victims suffered smoke inhalation, although others were caught up in a crowded rush to exit the building when the fire rapidly spread. There are some witnesses to the fire told local media some security guards were preventing people from leaving the building.
It is common to have people pay their tab before leaving the clubs, and it is believed that this may have factored in during the confusion. Some security guards also reportedly died in the fire.
"It was a really complicated scene. A lot of smoke, a lot of shoes that was left, cell phones, because everybody tried to get out of there running," Glauber Fernandes, a reporter from CNN affiliate Band News, said. "While we were there, we saw the cell phones were ringing. It was parents, friends, trying to know about what was happening and nobody was answering."
It is believed that pyrotechnics are responsible for the blaze, and the band who was performing that night confirmed they had used them. While the investigation is ongoing, several media reports have indicated that officials have said the pyrotechnics ignited sound insulation on the ceiling. One band member recalled seeing a fire starting on the ceiling.
"It might have happened because of the Sputnik, the machine we use to create a luminous effect with sparks. It's harmless, we never had any trouble with it," said Guitarist Rodrigo Martins, reported Newsday. "When the fire started, a guard passed us a fire extinguisher, the singer tried to use it but it wasn't working."
One of the band's members was a fire victim because he'd run back in to try and grab his accordion.
People who escaped the fire described the horror to various media outlets, describing the rapid spread of the fire and the black billowing smoke.
Santa Maria is located in a college town, and many of the victims were reportedly students getting ready to start a new semester. Sadly, many of them will now be buried as their grief-stricken family members identify their loved ones and plan funerals.
ABC News reported three people have been detained in connection with the fire. A fourth individual is currently being sought.
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