By Pilar Olivares
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Carnival revelers in Rio de Janeiro danced on to Beatles songs set to Brazilian samba rhythms on Monday after an accident injuring 20 people marred the annual pre lenten bacchanalia the night before.
The Sargento Pimenta street band had thousands of spirited followers twisting and shouting and singing “She loves you yeah, yeah, yeah” as golden oldies from the Liverpool four blasted a waterfront park on the third day of what is dubbed the world’s biggest party.
Rio’s spectacular Carnival parade of top samba troupes suffered the accident on Sunday when spectators were pushed against a wall by a faulty float at the start of the famed Sambadrome show.
The massive three-ton float of the Paraiso de Tuiuti samba group carrying costumed dancers on platforms veered out of control as it turned into the parade ground. When handlers tried to straighten the float, it swung into a group of people.
Organizers said 20 people were hurt and eight were taken to hospital, three of them with serious injuries. One woman had two legs broken and was still in hospital. An initial investigation said the float had a mechanical problem, the organizers said.
The accident did not stop the all night parade by six of the city’s elite samba schools that spend millions each year to compete by parading down a 700-meter avenue with thousands of dancers driven by powerful drum sections.
The Carnival festivities provide Brazilians with a welcome escape from the reality of a two-year recession, record unemployment, a sprawling political corruption scandal and mounting crime in a city that hosted the Olympics last August.
Behind the joyful laughter, the drinking and the dancing, the grim reality of political crisis remained present.
At the Sargento Pimenta party in Rio’s Flamengo district, Mario Marcio, dressed in prison stripes said his costume represented “the politicians who are sticking their hands in our money.”
Fernanda Brito, dressed as a police officer, said she was there to arrest corrupt politicians “and show that it is possible to improve things in Brazil.”
The government of President Michel Temer, who replaced impeached leftist Dilma Rousseff last year vowing to clean up government and restore fiscal discipline, faced corruption allegations that are expected to rock Brazil after Carnival.
A group of young women attending the Sargento party wore their slogan painted on their arms: “Out with Temer.”
“We have to take advantage of this visibility to show the causes we support and truly need,” said Julia Saber.
(Writing by Anthony Boadle; Editing by David Gregorio and Andrew Hay)