Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff declared three days of national mourning today as grieving parents prepared to bury the 235 victims of a nightclub fire in the town of Santa Maria.
Local media said the fire began when a band let off fireworks at the Kiss club in Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul. The bodies of the young college students were found piled up just inside the entrance of the nightclub after the blaze enveloped the crowded building within seconds.
An early investigation into the tragedy revealed that security guards briefly prevented partygoers from leaving through the sole exit.
And the bodies heaped inside that doorway slowed firefighters trying to get in.
Police said the club's operating licence was in the process of being renewed, but it was not clear if it was illegal for the business to be open.