Horrific news: 231 people have been killed after an enormous blaze at a nightclub in Santa Maria on Sunday.
As reported by the BBC, the fire broke out during a freshers event at the Kiss nightclub in the early hours of Sunday morning. Although initial reports suggested the death toll could be as high as 400, police have now confirmed that 231 people perished, primarily from smoke inhalation. The majority were aged between 16 and 20. Around 100 people are still being treated in hospital.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that the fire began when one of the bands on the bill lit a flare onstage, setting foam insulation alight and flooding the venue with toxic smoke. The police are also currently investigating reports that the venue only had one emergency exit, and that bouncers briefly attempted to prevent people from leaving the club. Kiss’ fire safety certificate had reportedly expired last year.
Brazil has now declared three days of national morning to mark the country’s biggest fire in half a century. A major ceremony to mark 500 days until the 2014 World Cup in the country has also been cancelled, and Santa Maria has declared 30 days of mourning. President Dilma Rousseff has rushed back from a visit to Chile to deal with the disaster, and has met with survivors of the disaster. She described the fire as a “tragedy for all of us”. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of the deceased.