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Rio’s Samba City wrecked by fire

Posted on February 8, 2011

Samba City, a complex of warehouses in central Rio de Janeiro, has been hit by fire. This is where the city’s top 12 samba schools had been making their final preparations for this year’s carnival, which begins on March 4. The fire has caused millions of pounds’ worth of damage, destroying costumes and floats.

Witnesses said that the fire began at around 6am on Monday, February 7, and quickly spread through four warehouses, affecting the carnival organiser Liesa and the Grande Rio, Portela and União da Ilha samba schools.

The schools compete to win the parade contest in the world’s most famous carnival, which brings thousands of tourists to the city. Each school represents a community, with its own passionate supporters working through the year in preparation for carnival. Portela’s directors have said that at least 2,500 costumes have been lost. Cahê Rodrigues, the artistic director of Grande Rio, said that 98 per cent of his school’s costumes and floats had been destroyed. “Our school was gearing up to win carnival and I don’t know if in 29 days we can put on a spectacle on the same level as we had hoped,” he told The Guardian. Rio’s mayor, Eduardo Paes, promised that carnival would go on when he visited the devastated area.

Zoë was born in Edinburgh, and saw her first dance performances at the Festival there. She is the dance critic of The Independent, and has also written for The Independent on Sunday, The Scotsman and Dancing Times. In 2002, she received her doctorate from the University of York for a thesis on “Nationhood and epic romance: Ariosto, Sidney, Spenser”. She is the author of The Royal Ballet: 75 Years and The Ballet Lover’s Companion.

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