Rio Carnival Crowns Champion after Accident-Marred Festivities
Rio de Janeiro's carnival crowned a champion of its elite samba school parade on Wednesday, capping festivities marred by two accidents that injured more than 30 people.
By winning the carnival's headline event, the Portela samba school ended a 33-year losing streak, nabbing the crown for the 22nd time.
Although it is the most successful school in carnival history, it has not won since 1984, the year the Sambodromo -- the elongated stadium that hosts the championship parade -- was inaugurated.
The school, which was founded in 1923, represents the Madureira neighborhood in Rio's north, considered to be the cradle of samba. Its entry was based on the theme of rivers and man's relationship to water.
The sparkling costumes, near-naked dancers and pulsating beats provided Brazilians with an escape from the worst recession in a century and a particularly ugly year in the country's corruption-stained politics.
But the revelry was marred by mayhem on Tuesday when a float became involved in a freak accident for the second time in two nights.
Twelve people were injured when the top level of an elaborate three-story float collapsed under the weight of the brightly costumed dancers atop it, crashing onto the crowded platform below.
Another float swerved into a crowd and injured 20 people late Sunday, during the championship's opening night.
City transport officials have vowed to step up safety checks next year.