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DETAILS: Fire Kills Hundreds in Brazil Nightclub; Officials Say Main Cause of Death Is Asphyxiation

A fast moving fire tore through a nightclub in the southern city of Santa Maria in Brazil on Saturday night. The current death toll stands at 245 dead and hundreds injured. The fire broke out at the Kiss club while a band was performing. Rescue crews are using a nearby sports center as a makeshift morgue.

Update, 12:30p ET: The death toll stands at 232.

Reporter Andrew Downie from Global Radio News said the death toll could rise. He reported that the fire seemed to start when a member of the live band set off a flare that he had on stage. The sparks caught fire and a stampede broke out. Many people were trampled but the main cause of death according to officials is asphyxiation from smoke.

One woman in the club told a local news station that a member of the band

tried to put out the fire but the extinguisher didn’t work. Downie said officials say security guards prevented people from escaping by refusing to open the doors. He explained that in Brazil, there is no tab for drinks so the security guards were trying to stop people who hadn’t yet paid. People tried to tear down the wall from the outside with axes in order to release smoke from the building.

The area is a university town and many people in the club on Saturday were supposedly students.

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