Fans gather after fire kills 10 at Brazilian football academy

Fans gather after fire kills 10 at Brazilian football academy

Friends, fans and neighbours have gathered outside the academy for Brazil’s popular professional football club Flamengo after a fire swept through sleeping quarters, killing 10 people and injuring three teenagers.

Firefighters were called just after 5am on Friday to the sprawling Ninho de Urubu training grounds in Rio de Janeiro’s western region.

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“We are distraught,” Flamengo president Rodolfo Landim said outside the complex, where people gathered, some in prayer.

“This is the worst tragedy to happen to the club in its 123 years.”

He did not take questions from reporters who also were outside the complex but added: “The most important thing right now is to minimise the suffering of these families.”

The cause of the fire was not known, but Claudio Castro, vice governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro, said authorities were looking at the possibility of a short circuit in an air conditioning unit.

In a statement, the city said the area that burned was registered for parking, not as a dormitory. The statement said an investigation into the licensing process was under way.

Sebastian Rodriguez, the uncle of one of the players who died, 15-year-old Samuel Thomas Rosa, said his nephew never complained about the conditions.

“He never told me anything bad about the training centre,” Mr Rodriguez said. “He liked the environment and his teammates there.”

Rio de Janeiro mayor Marcelo Crivella ordered three days of mourning, and President Jair Bolsonaro issued a statement lamenting the fire had taken “the young lives at the beginning of pursuing their professional dreams”.

Passion for football runs deep in Brazil, and as news of the tragedy spread, many of the world’s best players and top officials expressed condolences.

“It’s a sad day for Brazilian soccer,” tweeted Pele, the country’s most famous player

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