Rio de Janeiro, Feb 8 : At least 10 people died after a fire broke out at the youth training centre of Flamengo, one of Brazil’s biggest football clubs here on Friday, officials said.
The flames took hold in the early hours of the morning in the club’s Ninho do Urubu facility, the training centre that was expanded and opened only two months ago. The blaze engulfed a dormitory where the players were sleeping, the BBC reported.
Six of the victims were young players and four were employees at Ninho de Urubu. Three teenagers were also injured, one of them seriously. The cause of the fire was not yet known.
The club was due to play their rivals Fluminense on Saturday. The game has now been postponed.
Former player and Brazil football legend, Ronaldinho, offered his condolences for the “terrible tragedy” in a tweet. He published the club’s crest in black-and-white alongside the message.
Apart from Ronaldinho, some of Flamengo’s most prominent former players included World Cup winners Bebeto and Romario.
Rio Governor Wilson Witzel announced three days of mourning to remember the victims of the tragedy, Agencia Brazil reported.
General Hamilton Mourao, Brazil’s Vice-President and one of the club’s most high-profile fans, said: “As a fan and sportsman I stand in solidarity with the families, the club and the Red-and-Black nation. May God comfort all.”
Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior, who joined the club from Flamengo last year, said: “Just remembering the nights and days I spent at the training centre, it gives me goosebumps.”
Flamengo said the club “was in mourning”.
Pele, Brazil’s three-time World Cup winner, tweeted: “My day began with the news about the fire at Flamengo’s training ground — a place where young people pursue their dreams. It’s a very sad day for Brazilian football.”
Ninho do Urubu boasts two soccer pitches, a specific goalkeeper training centre as well as boarding options for the youth team.
Rio is currently recovering from a spate of stormy weather and torrential rain that on Wednesday killed six people and flooded several areas of the city. The adverse weather triggered landslides and washed away parked cars.
The western portion of the city, where Flamengo’s youth facilities are located, was particularly badly hit.