People walk along a street in front of a collapsed sidewalk during Carnival celebrations on Sao Paulo, Brazil. | Getty Images
SAO PAULO — A street plowed into the rain-swollen Guanabara Bay during a Brazilian parade left as many as 30 people dead and many more injured, the deadliest Carnival accident in the country’s history.
An estimated 3 million people converged on Rio de Janeiro’s beaches and the city’s iconic “pacific park” for the start of the weeklong celebration, which kicks off with a samba-floating parade.
People who gathered on the bay in recent days to view the carnival music competition abandoned the sea front Wednesday morning after the parade smashed into the embankment and cascaded into the water below.
“People are getting pulled out, dead,” said rider Xavier Coutinho, a 33-year-old journalist. “Then you go up a bit and it’s all dangling. It looks horrible.”
The street has been a popular location for Carnival floats for years, like what happened on Wednesday.
The moment the carnival parade crashed Wednesday.
Carnival participants gathered on the seawall of the bay as a band played a game with people standing on the sidelines, said Teresa Jonas, who lives nearby.
“It just fell all over us,” she said. “All you could do was just watch the people fall into the sea.”
Brazil’s most popular newspaper, Globo, reported that a total of 29 people were killed.
Survivors said they were thrown into the air by the impact and that children were among the dead. The Federal Agency of Civil Defense, which provides medical assistance for emergencies, said 11 people were confirmed dead and two were in critical condition.
Heavy rain this week led authorities to cancel or postpone multiple concerts at the famed Maracana soccer stadium hosting the World Cup final in 2014 and the Copa do Brasil football championship last year.
The Carnival accident is the deadliest event at the holiday’s parade grounds since 1911, when at least 100 people were killed when a stage collapsed just before a crowded parade in Rio.