Officials say at least 232 people died in a nightclub fire overnight in Brazil, and that number is expected to climb.
Fire broke out at the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria around 2:00 a.m. Col. Adilomar Silva, the regional coordinator of civil defense, told reporters the fire started on acoustic insulation inside the club. There was a pyrotechnics show going on at the time, though officials maintain that it's too early to know the cause of the fire.
Most of those killed died of smoke inhalation. Many others were trampled as the crowd, which can reach up to 3,000 on the weekends, desperately tried to escape the burning building. From photos on the club's Facebook page, it appars Kiss was usually very crowded. It's not believed that there were any exit signs inside the popular club.
Brazilian President Dilma Roussef spoke to reporters this morning from Chile, where she is attending a summit. She told CNN she'll head to Santa Maria later today.
"The Brazilian people are the ones who need me today," she said. "I want to tell the people of Santa Maria in this time of sadness that we are all together."
Santa Maria is home to several colleges including the the Federal University of Santa Maria. The nightclub was likely more crowded than usual as this weekend marked the end of summer vacation for many and school resumes tomorrow.
UPDATE: Though reports still vary, officials have lowered the death toll from the original 245 to 232. Officials also believe there were about 2,000 people in the club at the time of the fire, double the club's 1,000-person capacity.
[Images via AP and Facebook]