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Brazil Nightclub Fire Kills More Than 230 People

Brazilian Nightclub Fire
Germano Roratto/AFP/Getty Images

Nearly 10 years after the tragic 2003 fire in which 100 people died at The Station nightclub in Rhode Island during a show by the rock band Great White, an eerily similar nightclub blaze Sunday morning (Jan. 28) in Santa Maria, Brazil, has claimed the lives of more than 230 people.

According to an Associated Press report, witnesses stated that a flare or firework lit by a band member during country pop group Gurizada Fandangueira’s performance started the fire, though officials are still investigating the exact cause. After the blaze broke out, partygoers began to panic while rushing toward the Kiss nightclub’s solitary entrance. The exit was reportedly partially blocked by people who had already perished attempting to escape. Many of the deceased were found in a bathroom after it was apparently mistaken for an exit.

One of the survivors, Luana Santos Silva, told the Globo TV network, “There was so much smoke and fire, it was complete panic, and it took a long time for people to get out, there were so many dead.” Another survivor, Michele Pereira, told the Fohla de S. Paulo newspaper, “The band that was onstage began to use flares and, suddenly, they stopped the show and pointed them upward. At that point, the ceiling caught fire. It was really weak, but in a matter of seconds it spread.”

The band’s guitarist, Rodrigo Martins, told Radio Gaucha that he thought that Sputnik, a machine they used to create a luminous effect with sparks, might have caused the fire. He stated, “It’s harmless. We never had any trouble with it. When the fire started, a guard passed us a fire extinguisher. The singer tried to use it but it wasn’t working.” Martins confirmed that the band’s 28-year-old accordion player Danilo Jacques died in the incident, while the five other members escaped unharmed.

At last count, 233 people had been counted among the dead and 117 had been treated at hospitals for smoke inhalation and burns.

Sunday’s incident was the worst nightclub fire since December 2000, when an accident led to 309 people dying in a venue in Luoyang, China. In the United States, the Great White club fire at The Station in Rhode Island is the most notorious incident. One hundred people were killed after a combination of pyrotechnics and cheap foam soundproofing led to the February 2003 blaze.

Loudwire offers its condolences to all the family and friends of those who lost their lives as well as thoughts for those injured in Sunday’s Brazil nightclub fire.

CNN Report on Brazil Nightclub Fire

Next: Stage Collapse Kills One and Injures Three

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