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More Than 200 Killed In Brazilian Nightclub Blaze

By Krishnadev Calamur | NPR
Sunday, January 27, 2013

Update at 12:15 p.m. ET Toll Revised

Here's the most-recent information we have on the deadly fire in Santa Maria:

-- Maj. Cleberson Bastianello Braida now says 232 people were killed – and not 245 as had been reported earlier. He said 117 people had been hospitalized. He made the announcement at a news conference in the Municipal Sports Center.

-- Col. Guido Melo Pedroso, the commanding general of the Fire Brigade, said firefighters rescued some 150 people from inside the nightclub. He said most of those who died suffocated.

-- Local media, cited by The Associated Press and the BBC, say the fire began when a band performing at the club let off fireworks.

-- President Dilma Roussef, who cut short a visit to Chile, went to a hospital in Santa Maria where the injured are being treated.

-- O Globo reports that the fire is Brazil's second-worst. The worst occurred in 1961 during a circus; 503 people were killed.

Update at 9:28 a.m. ET Death Toll Rises

Police in the southern Brazilian city of Santa Maria now say that at least 245 people are dead and 200 injured in a blaze at a nightclub early Sunday.

Police Maj. Cleberson Braida said the bodies were brought to a gymnasium in the city to be identified.

The Associated Press reports that the toll would make the blaze one of the deadliest nightclub fires in more than a decade.

Santa Maria is a major university town; it has a population of 250,000 people.

Rodrigo Moura, a security guard at the club, told the Diario de Santa Maria newspaper that between 1,000 and 2,000 people were inside the club at the time of the fire.

Here's more from the newspaper:

"Ezekiel Corte Real, 23, was at the club when the fire started. He says he helped many to leave, but admits it was very difficult to save them. 'I just got out because I'm very strong.'"

Our original post:

At least 180 people are dead Sunday following a nightclub fire in southern Brazil.

The fire broke out during a college party at Kiss, a nightclub in Santa Maria, in Rio Grande do Sul, the country's southernmost state.

The Associated Press reports that at least 200 people were injured.

The O Globo newspaper says between 300 and 400 people were on site at the time. Officials say the fire began at around 2:30 a.m. when a band was performing.

O Globo said the club had only one exit, and those inside panicked as they tried to get out. Firefighters opened a hole in the outer wall to allow more people to escape.

We'll have more details about the death toll and the cause of the fire as we they emerge.

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