| RIO DE JANEIRO
RIO DE JANEIRO Feb 27 The spectacular Carnival
parade of Rio's top samba troupes was marred by the injury of 20
people who where pushed against a wall by a faulty float at the
start of the famed Sambadrome show, organizers said on Monday.
The accident did not stop the all night parade by six of the
city's elite samba schools that spend millions each year to
compete for the title of champion by parading down a 700-meter
avenue with thousands of dancers driven by powerful drum
The massive three-ton float of the Paraiso de Tuiuti samba
group carrying costumed dancers on platforms veered out of
control as it turned into the parade ground at the start of
event on Sunday night. As its handlers tried to straighten the
float it swung into a group of spectators.
Organizers said 20 people where hurt and eight were taken to
hospital, three of them with serious injuries. One woman had two
legs broken and was still in hospital.
An initial investigation said the float had a mechanical
problem, the organizers said.
Hundreds of thousands danced and sang in the streets of Rio
over the weekend in block parties in the annual pre lenten
bacchanalia that drew over 1 million tourists to the city.
The Carnival festivities provide Brazilians with a welcome
escape from the reality of a two-year recession, record
unemployment, a sprawling political corruption scandal and
mounting crime in a city that hosted the Olympics last August.
Environmental concerns and cultural preservation themes
predominated in the floats and costumes of the samba schools
that paraded before 200,000 paying Sambadrome spectators through
the early hours of Monday.
Imperatriz Leopoldinense, one of Rio's traditional samba
schools, honored the Amazon and its native tribes with a parade
featuring six giant floats and 2,800 dancers, musicians and
other costumed celebrants, including indigenous leaders invited
to join the parade.
The show called "The Clamor that Comes from the Forest,"
highlighted the tension between development and conservation in
Brazil, where an expanding agricultural frontier threatens the
world's largest rainforest.
The Carnival theme outraged Brazil's powerful farm lobby
that denies destroying the rainforest and sees itself as the
most successful sector of Brazil's economy.
Singing lyrics that lamented the "bleeding heart of Brazil"
and the "riches that greed destroys," participants wore vests
with skulls and crossbones and pretend to spray pesticide.
Others will wield toy chainsaws and bundles of felled timber.
(Writing by Anthony Boadle; Editing by David Gregorio)