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Taylor Swift's Rio tour marred by deaths, muggings and a dangerous heat wave

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Taylor Swift's Rio tour marred by deaths, muggings and a dangerous heat wave
November 20, 2023
DIANE JEANTET - AP

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The deaths of two people, muggings and a dangerous heat wave left legions of Taylor Swift's Brazilian fans angry and disappointed in the three-day Rio de Janeiro leg of the pop superstar's Eras Tour, which concludes Monday night.

Gabriel Mongenot Santana Milhomem Santos, 25, a fan who had traveled from the country’s center-west region to see Swift, was stabbed to death on a Copacabana beach about 3 a.m. Monday, Rio's police said in a statement.

It was the second death of a Swift fan in four days. On Friday, 23-year-old Ana Clara Benevides Machado fell ill during the singer's first show in the city, and died later that evening at a hospital.

Fans also reported fainting from extreme heat, being mugged or getting caught up in a police raid.

Rio’s Municipal Health Department said Benevides, who, according to a friend, passed out during Swift's second song, “Cruel Summer,” experienced cardiorespiratory arrest, but the exact cause of her death is not yet known. Rio’s Forensic Medical Institute examined the body Saturday and said additional laboratory tests had to be conducted, the online news site G1 reported.

In a statement posted on Instagram, Swift said Benevides' death left her with a “shattered heart.”

Before the show Friday, fans lined up for hours outside the Nilton Santos Olympic Stadium where temperatures soared to 41 degrees Celsius (105 Fahrenheit), with a heat index of nearly 59 C (138 F). Inside the stadium, concertgoers complained of unbearable heat and some said they had difficulty getting access to water.

“I didn’t imagine that my dream could turn into a nightmare,” said fan Kléssia Menezes, who told R7 TV that she had gotten stuck with hundreds of other people on one of the ramps to a VIP area Saturday as security officers blocked the entrance.

Once security let them through, she said, people started running and she fell on a hot metallic floor that burned her leg and back.

“They took me to the doctor ... and I saw that I wasn’t the only person to have fallen in this chaos," she said. "Many people fell and burned themselves.”

Ultimately, that night's show was postponed, after tens of thousands of fans had spent hours lining up in the heat. Swift announced on Instagram that it was necessary “due to the extreme temperatures in Rio.”

A fan who identified herself as Julia Alvarenga said she was upset that Swift didn't decide to cancel earlier.

“My friend, can you see how much I’m sweating, how all the pores in my body are dilated from the sweat?” Alvarenga asked, visibly angry, in a video posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. She then pointed to her waist, highlighting the extreme measures she had taken to attend a concert for which she knew she would stand in line for hours. “I’m wearing a diaper, a geriatric diaper,” she says, urging the artist to appear. “Come on stage, I want to see you!”

The postponement was followed by chaos outside the stadium. Under a light rain, a mass of concertgoers left the area, which is close to one of Rio's working-class neighborhoods, known as favelas.

Videos shared on social media showed groups of pickpockets robbing fans of their belongings, scenes not so unusual to Rio residents, but far from the postcards many tourists have seen of the “cidade maravilhosa."

Many took refuge inside a Burger King, ducking for cover under tables and behind the counter in the kitchen area. Heavily armed police raided the fast food restaurant’s basement as loud sirens blared and those stuck outside the restaurant shouted. Some of those who were able to escape in taxis were overcharged by the drivers.

Saturday’s show was postponed to Monday night, but many who had traveled from other regions of Brazil and outside the country had already made plans to leave earlier.

“We’re not going to be able to make it,” said Hely Olivares, a 41 year-old Venezuelan who had traveled from Panama. “A lot of people have wasted their journey.”

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