10 youth players die in fire at Flamengo training ground
A fire has led to the deaths of 10 youth players at Flamengo football club in Brazil, according to local TV channel Globo.
The blaze, which engulfed a dormitory at the youth team training centre, occurred when players were asleep.
At least three others were injured and the cause is not yet known.
The fire broke out at Ninho do Urubu, a state-of-the-art training centre that was expanded and opened only two months ago.
"The kids from the Flamengo youth team were sleeping there at the time," firefighter Douglas Henaut told Globo News.
A fire truck is seen in front of the training center of Rio's soccer club Flamengo, after a deadly fire in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil February 8, 2019.Reuters
Vinicius Junior, the teenage Real Madrid forward who trained at the facility before joining for the Spanish giants last year, tweeted his condolences.
"What sad News! Praying for everyone! Strength, strength, strength," he wrote.
The fire follows days of heavy rains that hit the city and claimed at least six lives.
Flamengo, the alma mater of players such as Zico, Junior and Leonardo, is one of the best-supported clubs in Brazil and is famous around the world. Known by fans as the Red-and-Black, they won the Copa Libertadores, South America's version of the Champions League, in 1981 and lifted the Intercontinental Cup a few months later.
Zico, who is outside Brazil, wrote on Instagram: "What a shock getting this news here on the other side of the world," the former Brazil midfielder wrote. "May the Red-and-Black nation have strength and faith to get through this moment."
Flamengo made no official statement other than to tweet that it was in mourning. But rival teams across Brazil, including fellow Rio sides Botafogo, Fluminense and Vasco da Gama, tweeted their solidarity.
The tragedy came a day before the side were due to play arch rivals Fluminense at the Maracana stadium. The derby match is now expected to be postponed.
One of Flamengo's most high-profile fans, the country's vice-president, also expressed his condolences.
"As a fan and sportsman I stand in solidarity with the families, the club and the Red-and-Black nation," General Hamilton Mourao wrote on twitter. "May God comfort all."