RIO DE JANEIRO – At least eight people were injured and two are in serious condition after an accident on Sunday as the float of the samba school Paraiso de Tuiuti started parading on the first day of carnival in the Sambodromo of Rio de Janeiro.
Members of the samba school had problems maneuvering the last float of the parade and ended up shoving the gigantic contraption into one of the fences bordering the 700-meter parade track.
After losing control, they tried to push the float back but ended up crashing into a group of spectators on the pavement.
Firemen and ambulances rushed to take care of the victims while those in critical condition were sent to Souza Aguiar Hospital in the city center.
“It was deadly,” a spokesman of Paradis of Tuiuti told EFE, explaining that the police are now investigating the accident, which occurred in the midst of heavy rain. The carriage, he added, weighs around 3 tons and had about 40 dancers on its platform.
The accident caused a delay of a about an hour, but did not stop the parades of other samba schools of the Special Group of Rio’s carnival, considered the world’s greatest open air show and the main attraction of the event.
Tuiuti, last year’s champion of the Access Group, took the Sambadrome of Rio de Janeiro with its 3,100 members, all beautifully dressed up, and with a percussion orchestra of more than a hundred musicians.
Tuiuti’s parade was divided in 23 alas (groups of dancers) with samba performed by Wamtuir and composed specially for the event by Carlinhos Chirrinha and Rafael Bernini. Each group took to the Sambodromo with six gigantic allegorical floats with different symbols praising Brazilian culture, ranging from painting and literature to music.
The highlight of the parade was the Tropicalismo, a musical piece written by Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil in the 1960s, defending Brazilian culture against foreign cultures.
Other groups scheduled to parade Sunday night are Imperatriz Leopoldinense, focusing on the environmental and cultural preservation of the Amazon and Unidos de Vila Isabel, addressing the African influence in Latin American and Caribbean music.
The Rio carnival will continue on Monday night with the parades of six other schools that make up the Special Group, the first division of the Rio carnival, and on Wednesday, some 50 jurors will give their verdict and announce the 2017 champion.
During the two days of parades nearly 60,000 sambistas, 3,500 percussionists and some 70 giant floats will pass through the Sambodromo with more than 200,000 spectators watching, including special guests in the balconies.