At least 232 killed in Brazil nightclub blaze 'after musician set fireworks off on stage'

Estimates in local media claim that up to five hundred people were in the club

Rio de Janeiro

Witnesses recounted a scene of horror that was “like something out of a movie” after a fire at a nightclub in Brazil left at least 232 people dead.

The tragedy happened in the early hours of this morning during a student night at the Kiss nightclub in the town of Santa Maria, in Brazil’s southern Rio Grande do Sul state.

The blaze was started by a flare thrown from the stage and quickly swept through the club, witnesses said.

Survivors told of chaos as hundreds of partygoers scrambled for the exit as thick black smoke filled the club. Most of the victims died of asphyxiation or from being trampled in the panic, police said.

“Those who were far from the doors had simply no chance, said clubber Matheus Bortolotto, who went back into the club to find survivors.  “A girl died in my arms, I felt her heart stop beating. It was like something out of a movie. The ambulances simply could not cope with all the wounded.”

The fire started soon after 2.30am when between 400 and 500 people were in the club listening to one of the night’s two bands open their set.

A flare thrown from the stage appears to have ignited soundproofing foam on the ceiling. Previous fires in nightclubs – including one that killed 194 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2004 – also started this way.

Luiza Sousa, a civil police official in Santa Maria, said the blaze then spread “in seconds”.

“We looked up at the ceiling in front of the stage and saw it had caught fire,” clubber Luana Santos Silva, 23, told Brazil’s Globo TV. My sister grabbed me and dragged me out of the club.”

“Everyone was pushing and shoving...the fire started out small, but in a matter of seconds it exploded,” said Taynne Vendruscolo, another survivor.

Some witnesses claim there was only one exit – and that security guards initially blocked their escape.

Murilo de Toledo Tiecher, a 26-year-old medical student, said: “People were screaming ‘there’s a fire’ but the security guards didn’t budge and tried to keep the door shut. Five or six people knocked over one security guard and knocked down the door. It was the only exit.” Another 117 victims were last night being treated in hospital. Many survivors appear to have been in the VIP area close to the exit. Those nearer the stage are said to have had little chance of escape.

Photographer Fernanda Gomes Freire Bona, 23, who was in the VIP area on an assignment, said the fact she was able to spot the fire early saved her life. “As I was near the door, thank God, I ran and in five minutes I was outside,” she said.

Today, bodies were being removed from the club hours after the fire was extinguished. According to Brazil’s O Globo newspaper, the first truck carried 67 bodies and the second 70. Police cordoned off the site to prevent anguished relatives from streaming in.

The city declared 30 days of mourning. The Vice-Mayor, Jose Haidar Farret, said: “This university town has never experienced anything like this. Just yesterday we were here to watch the selection of our carnival queen and today, in the same sports centre, we are here collecting bodies.”

Brazil’s President, Dilma Rousseff, cut short a visit to Chile, where she was taking part in a regional summit, to visit the scene of the tragedy. “It’s a tragedy for all of us, and I cannot continue here at the summit, because my priority is the Brazilian people,” she said.

A UK Foreign Office spokesman said: “As far as we are aware, there are no British nationals involved.”

News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Text messaging changes as a relationship evolves
life
News
The comedian, 42, made the controversial comment following the athlete’s sentencing to five years for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp on Tuesday
peopleComedian's quip about Reeva Steenkamp was less than well received at music magazine awards
Sport
Cristiano Ronaldo in action for Real Madrid
football
News
peoplePerformer had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SSRS Report Developer - Urgent Contract - London - £300pd

£300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...

KS1 Teacher

£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?