A performance from Brazilian pop outfit Gurizada Fandangueira has ended in tragedy after their pyrotechnics malfunctioned, resulting in fire engulfing the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria, Brazil, this past Sunday. Though officials are yet to make a statement on the exact causes, it’s been confirmed that, at the time of publishing, more than 233 people have died as a result of the fire, and another 117 people have been injured.
According to Loudwire, those in attendance were overcome by panic and rushed to the exits. Many of the deceased were found in the bathrooms after apparently mistaking them for a way out. The main exit was allegedly blocked with the bodies of those who had already perished trying to escape.
“There was so much smoke and fire,” recalls one survivor Luana Santos Silva. “It was complete panic, and it took a long time for people to get out, there were so many dead.” Another survivor, Michele Pereira, saw what happened, explaining, “The band that was onstage began to use flares and, suddenly, they stopped the show and pointed them upward. At that point, the ceiling caught fire. It was really weak, but in a matter of seconds it spread.”
Early reports also suggest the blame for the blaze may not fall squarely on the band. According to guitarist Rodrigo Martins, the Sputnik equipment they use for their pyrotechnics is “harmless” and problems arose once “a guard passed us a fire extinguisher… The singer tried to use it but it wasn’t working.”
Martins confirmed that the band’s keyboard player, 28-year-old Danilo Jacques, died in the blaze.
In the past, other small club shows have ended in tragedy on account of pyrotechnics, the most infamous being the Great White performance in Rhode Island in 2003, when 100 people died after cheap foam soundproofing proved highly flammable when put in contact with onstage pyrotechnics.
Emergency services in Santa Maria continue to search the wreckage of Kiss nightclub for survivors.