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Brazil nightclub fire kills 232

Brasilia, Jan 28 (): A tragic fire hit the ceiling of a nightclub, Kiss, in Santa Maria, a small city in Rio Grande do Sul, packed with 2,000 teenagers enjoying a Saturday mid-night party. Nearly 232 people, mostly teenagers were killed, police said.

The blaze happened in the university town of Santa Maria, in the prosperous southern state, Rio Grande do Sul, which shares its border with Argentina and Uruguay.

Around 2,000 youngsters were enjoying the party at the fateful nightclub, called ‘Kiss’. A roaring fire moved fast through the windowless, crowded nightclub, filling the air in seconds with flames and a toxic, thick smoke that killed many of the frightened party-goers, many of whom were caught in a stampede to escape.

The fire-fighters had to knock down a wall to enter the club to rescue the trapped.

Police Maj. Cleberson Braida Bastianello said the dead included 120 men and 110 women. More than 131 people were injured in the incident. Bastianello said the recount lowered the toll from 245 earlier believed to be killed.

The cause for the fire accident was not immediately clearly known, but media reports said the fire broke out after 2:00 am (0400 GMT) when the nightclub was hosting a university party featuring a rock band using pyrotechnics.

The fire chief of Santa Maria, Guido de Melo said the fire caused widespread panic, and that many revellers were trampled or died from smoke inhalation.

With the toll of 232, this is the second biggest tragedy in Brazil, the first being the death of 503 people in a circus fire in Rio state in 1961.

President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, cut short her visit to Chile and visited the survivors at the hospital along with other officials. She offered help to the injured and kin of the victims. The President was attending a European and Latin American summit in Chile at the time of the tragedy. She headed to Santa Maria immediately, a Brazilian official said.