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Death toll in nightclub fire raised to 245

A fire swept through a crowded nightclub in southern Brazil early Sunday, killing at least 245 people and leaving at least 200 injured, police and firefighters said.

Police Maj. Cleberson Braida told local news media that the 245 bodies were brought for identification to a gymnasium in the city of Santa Maria.

That toll apparently would make it the deadliest nightclub fire in more than a decade.

The cause of the fire is not yet known, officials said. Officials earlier put the death toll at 180.

Civil Police and regional government spokesman Marcelo Arigoni told Radio Gaucha earlier that the total number of victims is still unclear and there may be hundreds injured,

The newspaper Diario de Santa Maria reported that the fire started at around 2 a.m. at the Kiss nightclub in the city at the southern tip of Brazil, near the borders with Argentina and Uruguay.

Rodrigo Moura, whom the paper identified as a security guard at the club, said it was at its maximum capacity of between 1,000 and 2,000, and partygoers were pushing and shoving to escape.

Ezekiel Corte Real, 23, was quoted by the paper as saying that he helped people to escape. "I just got out because I'm very strong," he said.

The Canadian Press


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