August 19, 2019
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Brazil president laments 10 who died in Flamengo soccer club fire

Brasilia, Feb 8 (efe-epa).- Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said he lamented the fire that this Friday left at least 10 young people dead and injured three in the sports facilities of the Flamengo soccer club, and that he shared the pain of their families in this moment of mourning.

The disaster occurred before dawn at the youth team training center of the nation's most popular soccer club, located on the west side of Rio de Janeiro, and according to the first official reports, the victims belonged to the lower categories of the club.

According to a statement issued by the presidency, Bolsonaro mourned the loss of these "young lives on their way to making their professional dreams come true."

Bolsonaro was in a Sao Paulo hospital after undergoing an operation for the removal of a colostomy inserted last September following a stabbing attack that inflicted serious abdominal wounds.

Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourao also expressed his sorrow for the tragedy on his Twitter account, where he posted "Strength, Flamengo" and asked for "a moment of silence."

Mourao said he was "deeply saddened" by the disaster, and as a "fan and athlete," spoke of his "solidarity with the families" of the victims.

Rio de Janeiro's Gov. Wilson Witzel decreed three days of official mourning for the victims of the blaze.

Distressed families of the young athletes gathered at the gates of the Flamengo sports facilities seeking news about the whereabouts of their loved ones. A number of them formed a circle and prayed.

According to official sources, the flames destroyed the lodging center known as the Ninho do Urubu (Vulture's Nest) where the Flamengo youth team slept, all between ages 14 and 17.

None of those killed in the blaze have yet been identified. Meanwhile, the Municipal Health Secretariat of Rio reported that 15-year-old Jonathan Cruz is in "serious condition" and will be transferred to another unit, while Cauan Emanuel Gomes, 14, and Francisco Diogo Bento, 15, have been hospitalized and are out of danger.

Firefighters were able to extinguish the inferno but remained on scene to ensure the flames did not revive.

Possible causes for the fire were not yet clear, officials said.

Rio was currently recovering from a spate of stormy weather and torrential rain that on Wednesday evening killed six people and flooded several areas of the city. The adverse weather triggered landslides, washed parked cars away and felled some 170 trees.

The western portion of the city, where Flamengo's youth facilities are located, was particularly badly hit.

Ninho do Urubu is widely considered one of the most state of the art youth facilities on the continent.

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