A nightclub in Santa Maria, Brazil, hosted an event for students at the nearby Federal University of Santa Maria in Rio Grande do Sul on Saturday night.
Between 1,000 and 2,000 people packed the club, a guard told Diario de Santa Maria. The venue was at maximum capacity.
A fire broke out around 3 a.m., not long after the band Gurizada Fandangueira stated playing. The group is known for their pyrotechnic performances.
More than 233 people were killed and 100 injured. Most died from smoke inhalation.
Survivors reported that many struggled to find the club's unmarked exits in the dark. Many mistook the bathrooms for exits and were trapped inside.
Michele Cardoso, 20, used her phone to update her Facebook status at 3:50 a.m. with the message: "Fire at KISS help." Cardosa, her sister Clarissa, and her boyfriend Joao Paulo perished in the fire.
Some witnesses reported that as people fled the club, security guards tried to make sure they paid their bar tabs.
"It was like one of those films of the Holocaust, bodies piled atop one another," police inspector Sandro Meinerz told the press. "We had to use trucks to remove them. It took about six hours to take the bodies away."
The bodies of the victims were taken to a municipal gymnasium for identificiation.
Many of the bodies have yet to be identified.
Inside the gym, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff met with family members and friends waiting for news of their loved ones.
Mass wakes and burials began on Sunday.
Police have reportedly arrested three people so far in connection with the fire — the club's co-owner and two members of the band. They are now seeking a fourth suspect.