Fire hits Rio de Janeiro's carnival district in Brazil

People in Rio watched in tears as firefighters tackled the blaze

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A fire has broken out in the carnival district of the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, destroying more than 8,000 costumes prepared for the event.

Four warehouses were damaged in the blaze at Samba City, as well as a samba school and carnival museum.

One man was reported injured in the fire, which spread quickly because of the quantity of flammable materials.

Rio's world-famous carnival, due to begin on 4 March, attracts thousands of tourists and people from across Brazil.

A large plume of black smoke could be seen above the purpose-built Sambadrome - where the parade takes place - located near the city's port.

'Heartbroken'

According to reports, some workers were in the warehouses when the fire broke out at 0700 local time (0900 GMT), but most employees had not yet begun work.

A 30-year-old man was taken to hospital after inhaling smoke, but is recovering, the municipal health department said.

A fire consumes the warehouse of Rio's Samba City district The fire sent plumes of smoke into the sky above Rio de Janeiro

Some 90% of costumes in the damaged warehouses have been destroyed, according to the O Globo newspaper, affecting three of Rio's 12 top samba schools.

The president of the samba group alliance - whose schools perform at the carnival event - described the loss as "tremendous", according to Globo TV's website.

But he vowed that the carnival would go ahead as planned, even though there would not be time to recreate everything lost in the fire.

"We are heartbroken," Mr Castanheria said. "Everything was practically ready for the carnival."

The most affected group appeared to be Grande Rio, which said it lost almost the entire contents of its parade: eight floats and 3,000 embroidered costumes.

Their spokesman, Avelino Ribeiro, told the AP news agency that this year's show was a $5.5m (£3.4m) investment and about 7,000 people worked for about eight months to pull it all together.

Up to 700,000 international tourists attend the carnival each year, mainly from the US and Europe.

The cause of the blaze is not known.

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