Brazil has declared three days of national mourning for the 231 people who died in a fire at the Kiss night club in the southern city of Santa Maria. It is said to have started when a member of the band playing there lit a flare on stage. One band member was killed.
Most of the victims are believed to have perished from inhaling toxic smoke from foam insulation on the ceiling. There are claims that people could not escape because there was only one emergency exit, and that at first security guards stopped them leaving before they had paid their bills.
According to reports, the club’s fire safety certificate expired last year. Fireworks or flares were involved in other major night club fires in the United States in 2003, Argentina in 2004, and Thailand and Russia both in 2009.
Probably the deadliest night club fire of all time happened at the Cocoanut Grove in Boston during World War Two, when 492 people died. It was believed to have been started when a junior member of staff lit a match to try to find a light bulb he had dropped on the floor. For more details see A Disastrous History of the World.