The fire began when fireworks where launched during a band's performance at the Kiss nightclub. The fireworks reportedly ignited the club's foam soundproofing material. Police officials have stated that at least 90 have died in the blaze, and an estimated 200 people have been transported to various hospitals in the area for treatment. Eight people have been admitted to the hospital in serious condition.
According to a Sky News
report, the nightclub is believed to have had only one exit. Fire officials where forced to knock a hole in the wall in order to allow people to escape.
states that a Globo TV reporter estimates that nearly 2,000 were in the club when the fire began. A security guard stated most of those attending the performance were teenagers.
Colonel Guido de Melo, the fire department's commanding general, told Estado de S Paulo
"The firefighters are doing their aftermath and looking for other victims. You can not specify the exact number of victims. They panicked and ended up trampling each other. A major factor (for the deaths) was asphyxiation. Styrofoam creates a toxic smoke too."
In a video posted on YouTube, Govenor Guilherme Gomes says
he is in route to Santa Maria to monitor the situation and get updated reports from the police and fire brigade. He also posted a statement
on Twitter saying officials are taking every "appropriate action".
UPDATED 6:14 CST
is reporting that the death toll could rise to more than 200. Major Gerson da Rosa Ferreira said that 159 bodies have already been removed from the club and the total number of dead could exceed 200.