"The Brazilian people are the ones who need me today," she said. "I want to tell the people of Santa Maria in this time of sadness that we are all together."
Ericmar Avila Dos Santos went from hospital to hospital Sunday, searching for his 23-year-old brother.
Hours earlier, he learned in a telephone call from a friend that his older brother was among those missing following the fire.
His family scanned lists, talked with police officials. They checked with friends, searched everywhere.
They finally found him -- among hundreds of bodies laid out on body bags at a makeshift morgue at a local gym.
"I was supposed to go with him. I didn't feel like going out. He ended up there without me," Avila Dos Santos said, openly sobbing over his brother's coffin outside the gym.
On Monday, the first of Brazil's three days of mourning, the three cemeteries in the city of 260,000 were packed with families readying to bury their dead.
Among them was Avila Dos Santos' family.
"We did everything together. We were even studying the same major," he said, remembering his brother. "Now that he's gone, I'm lost. I don't know what I'm going to do with my life."