BRASILIA, Brazil---- A fire swept through a crowded nightclub in southern Brazil early Sunday, killing at least 245 people and leaving at least 200 injured, police and firefighters said.
Police Maj. Cleberson Braida told local news media that the 245 bodies were brought for identification to a gymnasium in the city of Santa Maria.
That toll would make it one of the deadliest nightclub fires more than a decade.
The cause of the fire is not yet known, officials said. Officials earlier put the death toll at 180.
Civil Police and regional government spokesman Marcelo Arigoni told Radio Gaucha earlier that the total number of victims is still unclear.
The newspaper Diario de Santa Maria reported that the fire started at around 2 a.m. at the Kiss nightclub in the city at the southern tip of Brazil, near the borders with Argentina and Uruguay. The blaze broke out as a band was playing.
Rodrigo Moura, whom the paper identified as a security guard at the club, said it was at its maximum capacity of between 1,000 and 2,000, and partygoers were pushing and shoving to escape. Officials say many of the victims were trampled to death, searching for emergency exits.
Ezekiel Corte Real, 23, was quoted by the paper as saying that he helped people to escape. "I just got out because I'm very strong," he said.
"Sad Sunday", tweeted Tarso Genro, the governor of the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. He said all possible action was being taken and that he would be in the city later in the day.
Santa Maria is a major university city with a population of around a quarter of a million.
Television footage showed people sobbing outside the club, while firefighters used sledge hammers and axes to knock down an exterior wall to open up an exit.
Santa Maria is now using the Municipal Sports Center as a morgue.