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“The show must go on” promise Rio Carnival groups in spite of blaze

Monday, February 7th 2011 - 14:09 UTC
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Large plumes of smoke above the warehouses of Samba City Large plumes of smoke above the warehouses of Samba City

A fire has broken out in the carnival district, Samba city, of the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, destroying warehouses where floats are made, reports say. At least four warehouses, a samba school and a carnival museum have been damaged in the blaze at Samba City.

It is unclear if anyone was injured in the fire, which spread quickly because of the quantity of flammable materials. Fire-fighters were battling the blaze Monday morning but had yet to contain it, said O Globo television network.

Rio's world-famous carnival, due to begin on 4 March, attracts thousands of tourists and people from across Brazil.

Local television showed a large plume of black smoke above the purpose-built Sambódromo - where the parade takes place - located near the city's port.

According to reports, the fire erupted well before employees were due at work. No victims have been reported so far. Some 90% of costumes in the damaged warehouses have been destroyed, according to O Globo.

The president of the samba group alliance - whose schools perform at the carnival event - described the loss as “tremendous”, according to Globo TV's website. But he vowed that the carnival would go ahead as planned, even though there would not be time to recreate everything lost in the fire.

“We are heartbroken,” Mr Castanheria said. “Everything was practically ready for the carnival”.

According to Castanheria some of the most famous samba groups such as Portela, Uniao da Ilha and Grande Rio, have lost all their floats and costumes. Every year twelve samba groups (some of them with up to 3.000 members) dispute the prestigious title of the best. Preparations and rehearsals last a full year and the coveted prize is an iconic symbol of pride for the neighbourhoods.

Up to 700,000 international tourists attend the event each year, mainly from the US and Europe

Categories: Politics, Tourism, Brazil.

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