Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Horrific fire at Samba City in Rio

A tragedy of a different sort has befallen Rio.  It does not, to be sure, compare in terms of lives and livelihoods lost to the ongoing struggles brought on by flooding in nearby mountain towns.  There families continue to search for lost relatives and remain camped out in school gymnasiums awaiting what might come next.  At last count the dead have surpassed 850 and there are still some 400+ people missing.  It was proclaimed Brazil’s worst natural disaster several hundred fatalities ago…

But now in Rio, just one month before the annual Carnaval festival that brings a bit of joy and levity into people’s otherwise very difficult lives, there has been a tragic fire at the Samba City complex were Schools design and build their huge floats and create thousands of elaborate costumes.

What a horror show.  Early Monday morning fire broke out in one of the barracãos (warehouse work spaces) and quickly grew to engulf the entire three story space, while spreading into the two neighboring spaces as well.

See more photos here.

The plastic, foam, polyester, feathers, fiberglass, wood and other flammable materials used to create the floats and costumes made the fire fierce and fast-growing.

At escola Grande Rio nearly everything was lost: floats, costumes, design molds, computers, cell phones, cash reserves – more than R$7 million in losses.  Thankfully the bateria’s (percussion band’s) instruments were off site at the time and so have been spared.

It may be “just a parade” to some, but creating a winning Carnaval presentation is big business, and so much of the effort resonates in people’s hearts throughout the year.  It is a full time job for some, and hundreds of workers are employed for a good six months to make it a reality.

Just as some Brazilians identify so strongly with their beloved futebol teams, many in Rio’s poorer neighborhoods invest their hearts in their School of Samba.  This loss has cut people to the bone.


Organizers and the City’s leadership have quickly moved to guarantee that all is done to preserve and support everything possible to ensure a celebratory Carnaval event.  Leaders from the Schools affected have proclaimed proudly that, while works of art that have been up to 8 months in the making are now gone, the spirit of Carnaval can not be taken from the members of their communities

The show will go on.  It is sure to be an emotional event.

[Two photos taken from here.]

2 comments:

Anita said...

Horrific ! Really horrific ! Even in my little Dutch village people have heard about it.

Danielle said...

I just came on to comment that your apartment is so cute!! I just might have to copy some of your shelving ideas...