More than 230 Perish in Brazil Nightclub Fire

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Many of the 233 victims who died in a nightclub fire in Brazil Sunday were university students under the age of 20. The fire broke out sometime before 3 a.m.

The majority of the victims suffocated within minutes from the fire's toxic fumes.

Police inspector Sandro Meinerz said the scene reminded him of images from the Nazi Holocaust.

"It was terrible inside. It was like one of those films of the Holocaust, bodies piled atop one another," Meinerz said. "We had to use trucks to remove them. It took about six hours to take the bodies away."

Firefighters could do little to stop the fast-spreading blaze, caused by a band's small pyrotechnic display.

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

Dr. Paulo Afonso Beltrame, a medical school professor who went to the hospital to help, told the Associated Press that most of the victims died of smoke inhalation.

"Large amounts of toxic smoke quickly filled the room, and I would say at least 90 percent of the victims died of asphyxiation," Beltrame said.

Michele Pereira, another survivor, was near the stage when a band member lit a flare.

"The band that was onstage began to use flares and suddenly they stopped the show and pointed them upward," Pereira told the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper. "At that point, the ceiling caught fire. It was really weak, but in a matter of seconds it spread."

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