Flamengo CEO: Fatal fire caused by energy spike
CGTN

The fire that killed 10 young soccer players at Flamengo's training ground in Rio de Janeiro was caused by a spike of electricity, the club's CEO Reinaldo Belotti said on Saturday.

The fire started in the early hours of Friday morning, a day after a devastating storm struck Rio.

Three people were also injured, with one in serious condition.

Belotti said the adverse weather conditions caused energy spikes that could have caused the fire in an air conditioning unit at the Ninho do Urubu, Flamengo's training center on the outskirts of the city.

Flamengo CEO Reinaldo Belotti speaks at a press conference in Rio de Janeiro, February 9, 2019. /VCG Photo

Flamengo CEO Reinaldo Belotti speaks at a press conference in Rio de Janeiro, February 9, 2019. /VCG Photo

"It was a succession of events after a catastrophic day for Rio that led to this even greater catastrophe," Belotti told reporters.

He did not take questions but said a reported lack of permits for the building was not a factor in the accident.

"The truth is that it was a tragic accident. It was not because of a lack of investment by Flamengo, it was not because Flamengo did not take care."

The club has not revealed information about the players.

A fan with a white rose outside of the Maracana stadium to honor fire victims at Flamengo's training center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, February 9, 2019.  /VCG Photo 

A fan with a white rose outside of the Maracana stadium to honor fire victims at Flamengo's training center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, February 9, 2019.  /VCG Photo 

The Rio de Janeiro's mayor's office earlier said the dormitory was built on an area registered as a car park. 

The city had warned Flamengo "almost 30 times" to close the lodging down, it said.

Reports say the incident has highlighted the precarious conditions many Brazilian youngsters face as they chase the dream of becoming professional soccer players.

Brazil unites in grief

Soccer players around the world have sent their condolences following the tragedy.

"What sad news! Praying for everyone! Strength, strength, strength," Vinicius Junior who began his career at Flamengo before his July 2018 move to the Real Madrid, said in a Twitter post.

"Just remembering the nights and days that I spent there [at Ninho do Urubu] makes me shiver. I still don't believe it. My prayers for all."

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Former Flamengo and Brazil great Zico posted a heartfelt video on Instagram from Japan, where he is currently the technical director of Kashima Antlers.

"May the red-and-black army have the strength and faith to get through this moment," the 65-year-old said. "I ask God to comfort the families of these boys who had dreams. It needs to be investigated because lives are gone and there is no turning back."

Meanwhile, three-time World Cup winner Pele said: "My day began with the news about the fire at Flamengo's training center – a place where youngsters pursue their dreams. It's a very sad day for Brazilian football."

(With input from Reuters and Xinhua)