Brazil has declared three days of national mourning for 231 people killed in a nightclub fire in the southern city of Santa Maria.

The fire reportedly started after a member of a band playing at the Kiss nightclub lit a flare on stage.

Authorities say most of the victims were students who died of smoke inhalation.

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The first funerals took place yesterday.

Three people were arrested over the fire, local reports said.

Police yesterday arrested two musicians from the band Gurizada Fandangueira and one of the club's owners, a local newspaper reported.

A fourth person was being sought, the paper added.

Brazil postponed a ceremony due yesterday in the capital Brasilia to mark 500 days to the start of the 2014 football World Cup. In Santa Maria, 30 days of mourning were declared.

President Dilma Rousseff, who cut short a visit to Chile, has been visiting survivors at the city's Caridade hospital along with government ministers.