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Brazil nightclub fire kills at least 233

At least 233 people were killed after a band’s fireworks show sparked a rapidly-moving fire in a packed nightclub in southern Brazil and fleeing patrons were unable to find their way out, local police said.
The bodies removed from the Kiss nightclub in the southern city of Santa Maria were taken to the Municipal Sports Center gymnasium for identification, police said.

Major Gerson da Rosa Ferreira, who led rescue efforts at the scene for the military police, told Reuters that the victims died of asphyxiation or from being trampled.

Police Maj. Cleberson Braida Bastianello told the Associated Press by telephone that the toll had risen to 233 with the death of a hospitalized victim.

Officials earlier counted 232 bodies that had been brought to the gymnasium in Santa Maria.

In addition to the number of deaths, more  than 100 people were injured, police said, and most remain hospitalized. Police officials had reported earlier in the day that 245 people were killed. The death toll could still rise, police said later, from the people who are injured.

Fire brigade colonel Guido Pedroso de Melo told O Globo newspaper that rescuers had difficulty entering the premises because of “a barrier of bodies” at  the entrance to the club.

Television footage monitored by Reuters overnight showed people crying outside the club as shirtless firefighters used sledge hammers and axes to knock down an exterior wall to open up an exit.

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