More than 230 people died when a fire tore through nightclub Kiss, in Santa Maria, in the South of Brazil. It was the last weekend before the end of summer holidays in Brazil. Santa Maria, located in the very south of the country, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, is well known as a student city where a large amount of their young population comes from different parts of the country to receive further education.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The party took place in a popular nightclub. About 2,000 were inside the building, double the maximum capacity of 1,000 according to local authorities. A few survivors reported that a member of the band who was playing at the nightclub let off fire works on stage that easily reached the ceiling creating not just a blaze but a toxic smoke. Although it was reported by a few witnesses, local authorities announced that the cause was still under investigation.
Survivors also added that security guards did not allow the crew to leave the nightclub when the fire started. It was reported by witness that the nightclub's staff did not know about the fire. "The doors were locked and the guards were trying to avoid people to leave the facilities without paying their expenses", said one student.
During the whole Sunday, hundreds of Brazilians were gathering outside hospitals and a local gymnasium where bodies were taken for identification. Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff met a few family members and friends of the victims in the afternoon. The president had cut short her visit to Chile, where she was joining a regional summit. Before flying back to Brazil, Rousseff became teary-eyed when talking to journalists.
"The Brazilian people are the ones who need me today. I want to tell the people of Santa Maria in this time of sadness that we are all together".