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Fire destroys part of Rio’s Carnival center

A large fire swept through the center of Carnival preparations in Rio de Janeiro on Monday, destroying hundreds of costumes and floats less than a month ahead of Brazil’s annual festival of hedonism.

Television images showed plumes of smoke rising over central Rio from a large, blackened section of the City of Samba complex where the city’s main Carnival groups spend months preparing their annual parades.

“It’s an unimaginable loss,” Jorge Castanheira, the president of Carnival organizing body Liesa, was quoted as saying by Globo’s news web site.

Workers were shown entering the complex trying to salvage some of the elaborate floats as firefighters battled the blaze, which appeared to have been brought under control.

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Media said four samba groups, or “schools,” had been heavily affected by the fire, throwing into doubt their planned parades through Rio’s Sambadrome for Carnival, which gets under way on March 4.


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