Nightly News | January 27, 2013
>>> good evening, much of the world's attention today was focused on a horrific tragedy in brazil, the death toll tonight at least 230 after a fast-moving fire broke out in a crowded nightclub. officials say too many people and too few exits turned the club into a death trap after a rock band 's pyrotechnics apparently ignited the ceiling. many patrons were left unable to get out, overwhelmed by the smoke, and in some cases, the flames themselves much the circumstances are eerily similar to some other deadly nightclub fires the past several years, including one in this country. today's tragedy happened in the southern brazilen university town of santa maria . nbc's mike taibbi reports.
>> reporter: the kiss nightclub was packed with the usual saturday night crowd when at 2:00 in the morning, a disaster. the ground floor was filled with smoke. club security initially blocked several emergency exits, thinking patrons were leaving without paying and that left only a few ways out. in the ensuing panic, many victims were trampled, others died of smoke inhalation . witnesses told police the fire was sparked by a pyrotechnics show on stage, according to nick ravenskroft of itv news.
>> the stunt on stage with the flare made the ceiling catch fire.
>> reporter: whatever the precise cause, the fire spread incredibly quickly as the crowd struggled to find ways to safety. some clubgoers who did make it out, joined firemen and onlookers in their attempts to open new escape routes using sledge hammers and axes, but it was too late for many inside. does of victims were carried to arising ambulances, if they survived. santa maria 's major trauma hospital was quickly overwhelmed.
>> translator: the injured are scattered around the hospital. those waiting for news outside are desperate.
>> reporter: they were desperate, too, outside the club, as more and more bodies of those who hadn't survived were laid on the ground. the numbers of the dead rose so quickly that the city morgue ran out of room. the bodies of scores of victims were brought, instead, to a local gymnasium. eat merging details of this disaster, a packed club, too few escape route and a fire triggered by on-stage pyrotechnics brought to mind several other similar nightclub tragedies. there was a 2003 inferno in west warwick , rhode island 's, station nightclub that claimed 100 victims much the 2004 blaze in ba when knows aires with 200 victims. but as brazil's president consoled relatives of the victims here, her country, soon to host the world cup and the olympics, remains in shock at one of its worst modern tragedies. mike taibbi , nbc news, los angeles .