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Rio's Sambódromo is Called to Account for this Year's Worst Accidents in its History

03/01/2017 - 12h04

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ITALO NOGUEIRA
LUIZA FRANCO
SÉRGIO RANGEL
FROM RIO

EDUARDO GERAQUE
PAULO SALDAÑA
FROM SÃO PAULO

Creative floats, luxurious costumes, choreographing and special effects from artistic efforts and work constructed during the whole year were overshadowed at Carnaval 2017 in the Sambodromo Marquês de Sapucaí, in Rio de Janeiro, by the presence of ambulances.

The Sambódromo is the elongated stadium that hosts the carnival's headline event: the elite samba school championship parade.

In addition to interfering with the parades, a number of accidents involving floats from samba schools that took place two days in a row left at least 20 injured in Rio's Sambódromo, revealing fragilities and calling into question the security and grandeur of one of Brazil's primary tourist events.

Two of the episodes were classified by the Independent League of Samba Schools itself as the gravest "in the 33 years of the Sambódromo's existence" and were extensively covered in the international press.

In one of them, part of the float from Unidos da Tijuca (United from Tijuca) collapsed in the early morning on Tuesday (28), bringing down six-meter-tall figurine structures.

In another, an out-of-control float from Paraíso do Tuiuti (Tuiuti Paradise) ran into and over more than 20 people on Sunday (26).

Five of the injured remain hospitalized. 58-year-old Maria de Lurdes Maura Ferreira, who suffered two broken legs and head trauma is breathing with a respirator.

In the Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel (Independent Youth for Miguel the Priest), the float's tallest figurine structure fell to the ground after its platform broke.

In the União da Ilha (Island Union), the float also lost directional control - this time, without any injuries, but left scared revelers behind who were nearly crushed on side gates.

Armando Paiva/Agif/Folhapress
An out-of-control float from Paraíso do Tuiuti (Tuiuti Paradise) ran into and over more than 20 people
An out-of-control float from Paraíso do Tuiuti (Tuiuti Paradise) ran into and over more than 20 people

Researchers have concluded that this kind of accident is typical of the current type of large floats being used, which started being used in the 1980's.

"We have reached the point where we need to rethink this concept of gigantism at Rio's Carnaval.

The safety failures are related to this. During an especially expensive Carnaval, the schools have tried to maintain this excessive luxury, perhaps being negligent in other areas", says historian Luiz Antônio Simas.

At the same time, Carnaval participants are pushing for changes in the Sambódromo. "It isn't a safe place. The logistics for arriving are difficult, the entrance path is very concentrated and risky, and dispersion is especially dangerous because the general population has free access.

The samba schools may be exaggerating somewhat, but the accidents weren't caused by this", declared The Island Union's Carnaval Director Wilsinho Neves.

After the accidents, the National Metrology, Quality and Technology Institute announced new rules for 2018 regarding the fiscalization and certification of floats - not only for Rio, but for the entire country next year.

Translated by LLOYD HARDER

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