Brazilian carnival accident kills 16 revellers
At least 16 people were electrocuted when a power line fell down on top of a packed pre-Carnival street parade in rural Brazil yesterday.
Witnesses reported that a high-voltage power line sparked and fell on the dancing crowd after it was hit by metallic streamers commonly tossed during Brazil's Carnival or by fireworks, police said, though the cause remained under investigation.
"We have at least 16 dead, among them teenagers," said a police spokesman in the town of Bandeira do Sul in Minas Gerais state, north of Rio de Janeiro, where the accident happened late on Sunday night. "Most were hit by the line but it's possible the current passed from person to person because the crowd was so dense."
At least 54 other people were injured, some severely. Shortly after the accident, police said 17 people died, but they reduced that figure after conferring yesterday with hospitals and morgues where victims were taken.
The partygoers were following a sound truck that was booming music when the accident happened in front of the town's main plaza. Such street parties are common across Brazil in the days before and during Carnival, which officially opens this Friday.
Television footage showed dazed people milling about the darkened square -- the accident knocked out electricity and phone service to the entire town for at least six hours, the police spokesman said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to discuss the case.
It is at least the third tragedy to hit Brazil's Carnival festivities this year.
On February 20, a 21-year-old woman in Rio de Janeiro died after falling 13 feet from the top of a Carnival sound truck in Copacabana, striking her head on the pavement. Also last month, a fire ripped through warehouses in central Rio where major samba groups construct their massive floats, costumes and props used during the city's elaborate parades televised across the nation. No deaths were reported in the blaze.