Flamengo training centre fire in Rio de Janeiro kills 10 people

Floods and mudslides kill 6 as storm leaves Rio de Janeiro in state of emergency

A fire early Friday swept through the sleeping quarters of an academy for Brazil's popular professional soccer club Flamengo, killing 10 people and injuring three, most likely teenage players, authorities said.

The training center re-opened just two months ago after undergoing extensive upgrades and renovations.

The pre-dawn blaze in Rio de Janeiro hit a building that housed players aged 14 to 17, firefighters said.

This is certainly the biggest tragedy this club has ever experienced in its 123-year history with the lives of these 10 people lost.

Like many professional clubs, Flamengo has a development program for promising young players.

Brazil's new far-right President Jair Bolsonaro campaigned with promises to crackdown on rising crime and said that police who kill criminals should be given medals not face prosecution.

"The air conditioner caught fire, and I ran out", said Felipe Cardoso, a player with the under-17 side.

Rio de Janeiro is one of the world's most violent cities with frequent shootouts between police and drug gangs and an annual homicide rate of around 50 per 100,000 inhabitants.

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"Just by thinking about the days and nights I spent in the training center gives me goose bumps", said the 18-year-old. I'm left in disbelief, but praying for everyone.

Chapecoense, a team in southern Brazil that lost 22 players in a plane crash in 2016, said on Twitter: "We are extremely sad and shaken by the news of the fire". It took around two hours for the fire to be brought under control. "God bless everyone's family". "May the Black and red nation have the strength and faith to overcome this moment".

Pele provided his sentiments, saying: "My day started with the news of about the [training camp] of @Flamengo - a place where young ones pursue their dreams".

Associated Press writers Mauricio Savarese in Madrid and Diane Jeantet in Rio de Janeiro contributed.

"For poor kids, many see it as the only path", he said.

All of those killed were youth players for the team, one of Brazil's top clubs, according to local media.

After years of financial difficulties, Flamengo last year spent $6.2 million USA to expand the Ninho do Urubu training ground.

In addition to accommodation for young players, the facilities include several pitches, an aquatic park, a gym, a medical center and a mini stadium.

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