By: ABC News
Police and firefighters confirmed the number of dead in a Brazilian nightclub fire has reached at least 245, with at least another 200 injured.
The deadly fire swept through the crowded Kiss nightclub in the southern city of Santa Maria early on Sunday morning.
It appeared to be the deadliest nightclub fire in more than a decade. Witnesses said that a flare or firework lit by band members may have started the fire.
Police told local news media that the bodies were brought for identification to a gymnasium in the city.
Television images showed smoke pouring out of the nightclub as shirtless, young male partygoers joined firefighters in wielding axes and sledgehammers, pounding at windows and walls to break through to those trapped inside.
Teenagers sprinted from the scene desperately trying to find help - others carried injured and burned friends away in their arms.
Witnesses told local television that firefighters and ambulances responded quickly after the fire broke out, but that it spread too fast inside the packed club for them to help.
According to a security guard at the club, who spoke to a local newspaper, the nightclub was at its maximum capacity of between 1,000 and 2,000, and partygoers were pushing and shoving to escape.
Santa Maria is a major university city, located at the southern tip of Brazil near the borders with Argentina and Uruguay, and has a population of around a quarter of a million.