By Shasta Darlington, CNN
updated 7:49 AM EST, Sun January 27, 2013

Sao Paolo, Brazil (CNN) -- A fire swept through a popular nightclub in the southern Brazilian city of Santa Maria, killing at least 220 people early Sunday, officials said.

The death toll was expected to climb as firefighters continued to pull bodies from the Kiss nightclub, Col. Adilomar Silva, the regional coordinator of civil defense said.

Most of those killed appeared to have died of smoke inhalation, he said. Hundreds are believed to have been injured, though an exact count was not immediately available.

The fire started at about 2 a.m. after the acoustic insulation in the Kiss nightclub caught fire, he said.