A fire broke out at a nightclub in Santa Maria, Brazil, early Sunday morning, leading to the deaths of 232 people, according to Reuters. The event is the deadliest nightclub fire in more than a decade.
The nightclub, Kiss, is located in downtown Santa Maria, a city near the southern edge of Brazil, not far from the borders with Argentina and Uruguay. Investegators believe that one of the band members playing that night lit off a flare or firework, which quickly ignited and spread across the club.
Kiss was holding an event for the local Federal University of Santa Maria, and most of the patrons inside the club were students at the university. Reports suggest that the nightclub was at maximum capacity, with as many as 1,000 to 2,000 people inside.
As smoke and flames spread quickly inside the nightclub, people began pushing and shoving each other to leave the premises. While most inside the club died to to asphyxiation from the smoke, many others were trampled by their fellow patrons trying to escape the blazes.
“There was so much smoke and fire, it was complete panic and it took a long time for people to get out, there were so many dead,” survivor Luana Silva told the Globo TV Network.
Firefighters arrived on the scene quickly, but the blaze had already spread too fast.
Reuters photographers captured several chilling images from the scene of the fire. Click through above to see the panic at the nightclub.