Rio Olympics street-side piazza collapses

Image copyright Metropolitan state of Rio de Janeiro Image caption The incident happened during a parade celebrating a century of Rio’s first Olympic games

At least 30 people have been rescued by fire crews after a street-side piazza collapsed during a parade celebrating a century of Rio de Janeiro’s first Olympic games.

Several people are believed to have been trapped in the rubble when the piazza collapsed on to a stretch of the Parroquia River.

Rescuers used picks and ropes to find trapped victims and used excavators to rescue those stuck in the water.

One girl, who had already been pulled out of the piazza, was in a serious condition, doctors said.

Play area after collapse

Image copyright Ricardo Barreto/Rio + State Government Image caption Several people died during the accident

Initial reports suggest the piazza caved under the weight of the crowds celebrating the city’s first Olympic games a century ago.

The two-storey piazza is located in the seaside district of the upscale Barra da Tijuca neighbourhood and is also close to Rio’s famous beach-front shopping and entertainment area.

Paratroopers, fire fighters and police officers arrived on the scene and brought several people to safety.

One local report said the piazza was primarily used as a play area, but it appears the collapse occurred during the celebration and several people were killed.

The local fire department said in a statement that firefighters, police and civil defence agents were still working on the scene.

Mayor Eduardo Paes issued a statement expressing his “amazement and deep regret” about the accident.

Image copyright EPA Image caption Authorities warned spectators not to celebrate too loudly

“I would like to express my gratitude for the assistance and support that is shown to me in this moment,” he said.

After several days of heated debate over the city’s preparations for the Games, organisers previously said they had the “most impressive and easily the best list of venues yet,” with more than 260 venues ready to use.

About 12,000 athletes are expected at the August 15-21 Olympics, including approximately 6,400 from Brazil, whose economic crisis has affected preparations and led to the postponement of some events.

But in response to a plea from a civil defence official for organisers to rethink party revelry, the city’s governor said she would give children at the upcoming Youth Olympic Games tickets and have them banned from street parties and fireworks displays during the Games.

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