SANTA MARIA, BRAZIL (CNN) – A fire swept through a popular nightclub in southern Brazil on Sunday (Jan. 27), killing at least 245 people.
The death toll was expected to climb as firefighters continued to pull bodies from the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria.
Most of those killed appeared to have died of smoke inhalation. Hundreds are believed to have been injured, though an exact count was not immediately available.
Many people were trampled in the panic to leave the club.
The Kiss nightclub is popular with young people in Santa Maria, drawing between 2,000 and 3,000 people a night on the weekends.
The blaze broke out during a weekend when students were celebrating the end of summer. Students at many Brazilian universities return to school on Monday.
Families and friends searching for information were outside a nearby sporting complex, where bodies were taken for identification.
The fire started at about 2 a.m. after the acoustic insulation in the Kiss nightclub caught fire.
There was a pyrotechnics show going on inside the club when the fire started. Authorities stopped short of blaming it for the blaze, saying the cause was still under investigation.
The incident was reminiscent of a 2003 nightclub fire in Rhode Island where pyrotechnics used by the heavy metal band Great White ignited a blaze that killed more than 90 people.
Pyrotechnics were also involved in a 2004 night club fire in Argentina that killed 194 people, and a 2009 explosion at a night club in Russia that left more than 100 dead.