Fire wrecks carnival costumes and floats

A fire in the carnival district of Rio de Janeiro has destroyed warehouses holding costumes and floats for next month's festival.

With no way fully to replace their work before the week-long spectacular kicks off on 5 March, seamstresses, set designers and musicians watched in tears as firefighters struggled to control the blaze near Rio's port.

"Do you know what it feels like to work all day, into the night, to make this happen, and then this?" asked Graziela Goncalves Carvalho, a costume-maker with one of the samba groups that appeared to have suffered heavy losses.

"It's over. There's nothing. This carnival is over for us."

After three hours, 120 firefighters had controlled the flames that appeared to have severely damaged warehouses belonging to three of the samba schools due to compete in the two-day parade, as well as those of the Independent League of Samba Groups that organises the event.

The cause was still being investigated. There were no reports of deaths or serious injuries, although some workers were in the warehouses when the fire started just before 7am.

Four of the four-storey warehouses were extensively damaged, with two of them collapsing internally. Ten warehouses were unaffected by the flames.