The fire broke out when a performing band started a fireworks display. The acoustic insulation in the venue reportedly caught fire, spewing thick toxic fumes. According to officials, most of the victims died of inhalation.
"Fire services are looking for other victims. We can't give an exact number of victims. People started panicking and ended up treading on each other," fire chief Guido de Melo said.
About 2,000 people were present at the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul, when the accident occurred. The toll is expected to rise as the police are still counting the dead, Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper reported.
Nearly 159 bodies had been removed from the club and the police are still removing the bodies, Maj. Gerson da Rosa Ferreira, who was leading the rescue efforts at the scene for the military police, told Reuters.