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

20 November 2023, 23:04

Brazil Taylor Swift Fan Dies
Brazil Taylor Swift Fan Dies. Picture: PA

Many fans have been left angry and disappointed during the three-day leg of the Eras Tour.

The deaths of two people, muggings and a dangerous heatwave 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 on Monday night.

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

It was the second death of a Swift fan in four days.

Brazil Taylor Swift Fan Dies
The pop superstar postponed her show on Saturday following high temperatures in Rio (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

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 in hospital.

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

Rio’s Municipal Health Department said Miss 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.

News site G1 reported that Rio’s Forensic Medical Institute examined the body on Saturday and said additional laboratory tests had to be conducted.

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

Before the show on 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 59C (138F).

Inside the stadium, concertgoers complained of unbearable heat and some said they had difficulty getting access to water.

Brazil Taylor Swift Fan Dies
Taylor Swift fan cools off with a bottle of water amid a heat wave before The Eras Tour concert (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

Kléssia Menezes told R7 TV that she had gotten stuck with hundreds of other people on one of the ramps to a VIP area on Saturday as security officers blocked the entrance.

“I didn’t imagine that my dream could turn into a nightmare,” she said.

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”.

Brazil Taylor Swift Fan Dies
Taylor Swift fans queued for hours in sweltering temperatures (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

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?” Miss 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 neighbourhoods, known as favelas.

Brazil Taylor Swift Fan Dies
The superstar played three shows in Brazil, ending the leg with the rescheduled show on Monday evening (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

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 drivers.

Saturday’s show was postponed to Monday night, but many who had travelled 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 travelled from Panama. “A lot of people have wasted their journey.”

By Press Association

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