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Brazil Carnival fire: Celebrations turn deadly

Brazil Carnival fire: The last day of Carnival celebrations in Brazil were darkened when a Carnival float hit a power line and caught fire, resulting in four fatalities.

By Maria Pia Palermo and Pedro FonsecaReuters / February 12, 2013

The remains of a burnt float is pictured at the Sambodrome in Santos, about 55 miles (88 kms) southeast of Sao Paulo, February 12. The float caught fire early Tuesday after striking a power line.

Ivan Storti / Reuters

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RIO DE JANEIRO

A Carnival float caught fire early Tuesday, in the Brazilian port city of Santos. The fire led to four deaths, striking a somber tone for the final day of exuberant Carnival celebrations throughout Brazil, police said.

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The float, authorities said, caught fire after it struck a power line during maneuvers following its participation in ongoing Carnival festivities.

The accident, which follows a nightclub fire that killed 239 people in southern Brazil last month, comes at a time when public events and venues are under intense scrutiny because of what critics consider the lax enforcement of safety and fire codes in the country.

The criticism comes as Brazil, Latin America's biggest country, prepares to welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors for the World Cup of soccer in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016.

Late Sunday, the most recent victim of the nightclub tragedy in the southern city of Santa Maria succumbed to injuries, raising the death toll from the January fire to 239.

Santos, the site of the Carnival float fire early Tuesday, is South America's busiest port. The city is located about 55 miles (88 kms) southeast of São Paulo.

Brazil kicked off its annual Carnival revelry last Friday.

It is most famously celebrated in Rio de Janeiro with festivities including flamboyant floats flanked by small armies of celebrants in flashy costumes. Many other cities also mark the holiday with processions with floats and musicians playing on slow-moving flatbed trucks.

(Editing by W Simon)

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