Brazil: At least 150 people died early Sunday in a fire that erupted at a nightclub in the southern Brazilian city of Santa Maria, local media reported. The death toll stood initially at 70 but quickly increased as firefighters searched the charred remains of the establishment named "Kiss."
Santa Maria fire chief Guido de Melo said the final toll was still unclear, suggesting that it could rise. "There was panic after the fire started and many revelers got trampled," he is quoted as saying by Estadao newspaper. "The main cause of death was asphyxiation."
According to media reports, the fire erupted after 2:00 am (0400 GMT) when the nightclub hosted a university party featuring a rock band.
The band used pyrotechnics as part of its show, O Globo newspaper reported on its site. "We have just taken the fire under control," Colonel Silvia Fuchs of the local fire department was quoted by the G1 website as saying. "Now we are removing the bodies."
Family member are gathering outside of the burned-down building in the hope of getting news of their loved ones.
The death toll from a fire that tore through a Brazilian nightclub packed with students has risen to 245, an official said early Sunday as investigators dug through the charred remains of the building.
"There are 245 dead and 48 in the hospital," Major Cleberson Bastianello, a military police commander in the southern Brazilian city of Santa Maria, told AFP.