UPDATE 5:00 pm: The Washington Post (http://wapo.st/1218QA9) places the death toll at “more than 230 people.” Witnesses said a flare or firework lit by band members may have started the fire.
Television images showed smoke pouring out of the Kiss nightclub as shirtless young men who had attended a university party joined firefighters using axes and sledgehammers to pound at windows and walls to free those trapped inside.
Guido Pedroso Melo, commander of the city’s fire department, told the O Globo newspaper that firefighters had a hard time getting inside the club because “there was a barrier of bodies blocking the entrance.”
UPDATE: The Associated Press (http://wapo.st/UuBrtd) reports the death toll at 245 and 200 injured.
A fire in a crowded nightclub in southern Brazil early Sunday killed at least 180 people and leaving at least 200 injured, reports USA Today.
A spokesman for the police in the city of Santa Maria told local media that the fire broke out at the Kiss club while a band was performing.
The cause of the fire is not yet known, officials said. The total number of victims is still unclear and there may be hundreds injured.
Rodrigo Moura, 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.
The fire appeared to be among the deadliest in a nightclub since a 2004 fire killed 194 people at an overcrowded working-class nightclub in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Read more of the story here http://usat.ly/10THQOa