230 Die in Nightclub Fire; Scene Described as 'Mass Chaos'

More than 230 people died in a nightclub after a performing band's pyrotechnics caused the ceiling to catch fire. Family and friends in Brazil were horrified by the scene and are now working to bury their dead.

"It was terrible inside – it was like one of those films of the Holocaust," police inspector Sandro Meinerz told the Associated Press. "We had to use trucks to remove them. It took about six hours to take the bodies away."

Many of the bodies were piled on top of one another, proof of the desperation of those inside trying to escape. One of the bands that was performing used pyrotechnics in its display, and the fire from the show ignited sound insulation on the ceiling and spread quickly.

"There was so much smoke and fire; it was complete panic. It took a long time for people to get out, there were so many dead," survivor Luana Santos Silva told the Globo TV network.

Adding to the chaos was the fact that bouncers refused to let patrons leave, believing they were skipping out on their tabs.

"People were screaming, 'there's a fire' but the security guards didn't budge and tried to keep the door shut. Five or six people knocked over one security guard and knocked down the door. It was the only exit. The first people to get out tried to pull out whoever was still inside. We pulled out various people. It was chaos, the worst desperation," Murilo de Toledo Tiecher told Zero Hora newspaper.

The security guards finally realized what was happening and opened the doors, but those moments cost them their own lives.

"It was chaotic and it doesn't seem to have been done in bad faith because several security guards also died," police inspector Marcelo Arigony told the AP.

According to the Daily Mail, 120 of the 232 dead were men and 112 women; all were young, mainly between the ages of 16 and 20. Another 116 people were injured and taken to local hospitals for treatment.