It may be weeks before Brazilian authorities fully understand how more than 230 people died in a nightclub fire in Santa Rosa early Sunday morning. But a timeline of the tragedy, the world’s worst since 2000, has unfolded in almost real-time -- most of the 2,000 concertgoers were university students, AP reports, and many recorded the disaster on social media as it happened.
The students were there to see the band Gurizada Fandangueira play a late-night show. Photos from inside the club show a crowded dance floor lit dimly by multi-colored stage lights and disco balls, and narrow halls with recessed lighting.
Gurizada Fandangueira took the stage around 2:15 a.m., when they lit up the “Sputnik” pyrotechnic machine that shot a pillar of sparks toward the ceiling.
— mirkos (@mirkos) January 27, 2013
But within five songs, the ceiling was ablaze -- sparked by the band's pyrotechnics, according to some survivor reports -- and party-goers pushed for the exits.
“I was one of the first 50 to leave,” one man, a medical student, posted on Facebook. According to his post, the security guards initially tried to keep people in -- a story echoed by other survivors. “I do not know if they thought it was a fight,” he wrote.
BOATE KISS PEGANDO FOGO! twitter.com/BoatoSM/status…
—Boatos SM ®#LUTO (@BoatoSM) January 27, 2013
Men joined firefighters at the club’s entrance, hacking away at the wall.
Videos show party-goers stumbling out, some dragging injured friends. On the sidewalk, paramedics pumped at the chests of unconscious victims while their friends fanned them with T-shirts. One video, which may be disturbing for some, shows paramedics removing dead bodies from the club. This video is less graphic and was taken outside.
In the aftermath of the fire, women in high heels and skin-tight dresses wander outside, looking lost. Men peer into the ruined club through a hole that firefighters axed in the building’s facade.
Photos from inside the club document piles of debris. The bathrooms, where at least 50 people died, show heavy smoke damage, their light fixtures dangling from the walls.
— Rafael Menezes (@rafa_radio) January 28, 2013
Since the smoke cleared and the funerals began, talk on social media has turned mournful -- and angry. The hashtag #ForçaSantaMaria, or "Strength Santa Maria," is trending in the region. A Facebook page that posted graphic photos and videos from the disaster says, in Portuguese, “WE WANT THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE NIGHTCLUB TO SEE THIS PAGE.” (Links to the club's Facebook page from Twitter no longer work, and its Web site has been down all day.)
But there is also a sense among some that social media has, in this case, gone too far. A series of tweets, each shared more than a thousand times, begged people with photos of the dead bodies not to share them. One young woman, who tweeted that she lost a best friend and several acquaintances, questioned why she got so many new followers and retweets after the tragedy.
Meanwhile, Twitter users have retweeted the last post by @Andiirs, reportedly the account of victim Andrieli Righi da Silva, more than 5,000 times.
@danrlei_darinAUHSDHUAUHSHUDuh acho que a kiss nunca mais sera a mesma depois dessa noite :x só acho AUHSDHUUHSDUHSUHDUH
— Andrii(@Andriirs) January 26, 2013
"The Kiss will never be the same after tonight," it says.