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Fire at Brazilian soccer team complex leaves 10 dead, 3 hurt

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RIO DE JANEIRO — A fire tore through the sprawling training complex of one of Brazil’s biggest soccer clubs Friday, killing 10 people and leaving three teenagers injured, firefighters said.

Firefighters were called in just after 5 a.m. to battle a blaze at the Ninho de Urubu training ground of the Flamengo soccer club in Rio de Janeiro’s western region, a fire official told The Associated Press.

There was no word yet on the cause of the fire.

“Flamengo is in mourning” the team posted on its Twitter account.

The ages and identities of those killed were not released but the three injured were 14, 15 and 16 years old, the fire official said. The injured were taken to local hospitals and their conditions were not immediately known, said the official, who asked his name not be used due to his agency’s rules.

Local media reported that the fire started in a dorm where youth soccer players sleep. The fire official said that could not be confirmed.

Messages to Flamengo officials were not immediately answered.

Aerial images from Globo TV showed firefighters walking through a charred area with smoke emerging.

Outside the complex, an Associated Press reporter saw two ambulances and a fire truck enter. The facility was closed, and no officials had come out to address media.

Family members, friends and neighbours were gathering outside in hopes of getting information.

Jefferson Rodrigues, who runs a small inn near the club, said he had reached a 15-year-old player he had befriended.

“I am very happy. I just spoke to Caix Suarez and he is alive,” said Rodrigues, adding that the youth told him he ran when he saw the flames in the morning. “He lost his phone, and all of his things, but the important thing is he is alive.”

Joao Pedro da Cruz, a 16-year-old player in the Flamengo youth league, told G1 news portal that he decided not to stay the night at the facility Thursday because the team wasn’t going to train on Friday. Instead, he went to a friend’s house.

“The majority of them (the team) stayed, my friends stayed (at the facility),” he said. “Today I woke up and heard this terrible news.”

Like many professional clubs in soccer-crazed Brazil, Flamengo has a youth development program for promising young players in their early teens. Many players, particularly those who live outside of Rio de Janeiro, stay at the facilities while training.

The dream of many youths in Latin America’s largest nation, winner of five World Cup titles, is to make it into the ranks of professional soccer. The development leagues identify promising players at a young age, working with them as they grow through their teenage years.

The best of those eventually play for Flamengo and several other teams across Brazil.

As news of the fire broke, several teams and players expressed their condolences on Twitter.

“We are extremely sad and shaken by the news of the fire,” tweeted Chapeco, a team in southern Brazil that lost 22 players in a plane crash in 2016.

Peter Prengaman And Marcelo Sousa Da Silva, The Associated Press

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Police name three men arrested after shooting at Raptors victory rally

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Toronto police have released the identities of three men who were arrested after Monday’s shooting at a rally celebrating the Raptors’ historic NBA win.

The men, who are all from Toronto and range in age from 18 to 25, are facing firearms-related charges.

Police have said four people suffered non-life-threatening injuries during the shooting.

Investigators allege that Shaquille Anthony Miller, 25, and Thaino Toussaint, 20, were carrying guns when they were arrested.

The men each face seven charges that include carrying a concealed weapon and — in Miller’s case — assaulting a peace officer while carrying a firearm.

Police say 18-year-old Abdikarim Kerow was arrested on a previous warrant and is facing a total of 20 charges, including two counts of possessing a loaded regulated firearm and possessing drugs for the purpose of trafficking.

Investigators are still looking for a firearm and a fourth suspect, described as a man around five-foot-nine, with a heavy build and short brown hair.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said police were looking for a third suspect.

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Tory promises review of Raptors parade amid planning criticism and praise

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TORONTO — The city and its partners will review planning for the Raptors’ victory parade that drew unprecedented crowds to the downtown, some of whom found themselves caught in a terrifying situation when gunfire erupted late in the proceedings, Toronto Mayor John Tory said on Tuesday.

Some experts were critical of the planning for a parade that ran hours late due to clogged roads on a route and ended at an overflowing square in front of city hall, where about a million people spent hours without ready access to water or washrooms — or a safe way to get out in an emergency.

Police acted fast to deal with the “scary moment” of gunfire, Tory said, as he denounced the “reckless actions” of those who took firearms to the celebration and praised organizers for their “extraordinary effort.”

“This was a massive event, the likes of which our city has never seen before,” said Tory, who had urged employers in the city to give their staff time off to show up for the celebration. “They had three days to plan this parade.”

Brad Ross, a spokesman for the city, said the review led by the city’s manager would look at all aspects of the event — among them the route, security and barriers used. Ross, too, said things went extremely well given the short planning time frame.

“We had from Thursday to plan fully,” Ross said. “There were some discussions in advance of last Thursday, but couldn’t get into nitty-gritty until they won.”

Paul Wertheimer, head of Los Angeles-based consulting company Crowd Management Strategies, called it unfathomable that detailed planning only began after the Raptors clinched the championship. Contingency plans, he said, should have been in place since it became apparent that the team were serious contenders.

“It’s not like a storm that came out of nowhere,” Wertheimer said from Chicago on Tuesday. “You don’t wait to the last minute. If you only have a few days to do it, you can’t do it right.”

One of the most important aspects of the plan, Wertheimer said, should have been to limit the number of people allowed into Nathan Phillips Square. Failure to do so, he said, leads to safety issues such as crowd crush and a lack of a way for people — who assume the event is being properly managed — to exit in an orderly and timely manner in an emergency.

Police and city estimates put the crowds downtown on Monday at somewhere between one million and two million people — probably a Canadian record. Apart from the four people wounded in the shooting, police and paramedics reported few other injuries or issues.

The city said Raptors owners, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, was in charge of putting the event together.

“Pre-planning with the operations parties involved began at the start of the NBA Finals, with the plans being activated, of course, once the Raptors officially won,” said company spokesman Dave Haggith. “We will be conducting debrief sessions with unified command and operations stakeholders to implement appropriate measures for future events of this scale.”

Russ Simons, managing partner with Tennessee-based Venue Solutions Group, said it would have been difficult to predict the outsize crowd of rapturous fans who came out for the parade.

“It’s obviously at its most extreme when you have a championship like the NBA Finals — especially for a franchise that’s never had one before,” Simmons said from Los Angeles. “I don’t think that’s something anybody could reasonably anticipate. That creates a cascading effect.”

Keith Still, a professor of crowd science at Manchester Metropolitan University, said the parade’s slow going due to crowding was appropriate.

“The last thing you want to do at these events is get heavy handed and start imposing crowd controls because that can create significantly more safety problems,” Still said.

Still commended police for their handling of the shooting. Contrast that, he said, with the response to the London Bridge attack in 2017, when it took several hours to get to the injured.

—With a file from Liam Casey

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press

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