'We are distraught': Flamengo boss says training ground fire 'worst tragedy in club's 123 years'
Brazilian football club Flamengo are in a state of mourning after a training ground fire claimed the lives of 10 teenage players and injured three others.
The alarm was sounded at 5am on Friday morning as fire broke out at the club's state-of-the-art Ninho de Urubu training ground, but emergency services were unable to prevent the deaths of 10 people.Also on rt.com 10 killed as fire engulfs youth team football training center in Rio de Janeiro
During a gathering outside the club's academy, Flamengo president Rodolfo Landim called the fire "the worst tragedy to happen to the club in its 123 years.
"The most important thing right now is to minimize the suffering of these families."
One young player, Joao Pedro da Cruz, told a Brazilian news outlet that he was due to spend the night in the building that burned down, but opted to stay with a friend as they didn't have a training session the next day. That decision saved his life, but other members of his team tragically perished in the fire.
"The majority of them stayed, my friends stayed," he said.
"Today I woke up and heard this terrible news."
President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro said the fire had robbed the club of "the young lives at the beginning of pursuing their professional dreams," while the mayor of Rio Marcelo Crivella responded to the tragic incident by declaring three days of mourning.
Fellow Brazilian club Chapecoense suffered a tragedy of their own in 2016 when a plane crash took the lives of 22 of their players, and they showed their solidarity with Flamengo with a statement on Twitter, saying: "We are extremely sad and shaken by the news of the fire."
Brazilian football legend Pele posted on Twitter to say: "It's a sad day for Brazilian soccer."
World Cup star Ronaldinho tweeted his support, sending his "heartfelt feelings to all the family and the red and black nation," while Real Madrid star Vinicius Jr, who used to live in the building that was destroyed by the fire, said: "Just remembering the nights and days I spent at the training center, it gives me goosebumps. I still can't believe it but praying for all. God bless everyone's family."