At least 10 people have died after a fire ripped through sporting facilities belonging to Rio de Janeiro-based Brazilian soccer club Flamengo, officials said Friday.
According to the city's fire department, the blaze injured three others, two seriously, when it engulfed parts of the Ninho do Urubu ("Vulture's Nest") training ground and youth team headquarters in western Rio de Janeiro, including a lodging center for the club's young players, and is the alma mater of world talents such as Real Madrid's prodigal forward Vinicius Jnr.
"What sad news! Let's pray for everyone! Be strong, be strong, strong," the 18-year-old forward, whose formative years were spent at the club's youth wing and later the first team before his move to La Liga in 2018, said on Twitter.
Douglas Henaut, lieutenant-colonel of the fire department, told reporters that the flames took hold in the early hours of Friday morning in the accommodation center that houses the club's under-18 players.
Firefighters were able to extinguish the inferno but remained on scene to ensure the flames did not revive.
Possible causes for the fire were not yet clear, officials said.
Rio was currently recovering from a spate of stormy weather and torrential rain that on Wednesday evening killed six people and flooded several areas of the city. The adverse weather triggered landslides, washed parked cars away and felled some 170 trees.
The western portion of the city, where Flamengo's youth facilities are located, was particularly badly hit.
Ninho do Urubu is widely considered one of the most state of the art youth facilities on the continent.
The talent pool boasts two soccer pitches, a specific goalkeeper training center as well as boarding options for the youth team.
In 2018, Flamengo, which boasts the largest fan group in the country, inaugurated its new training facilities and left its former grounds to the club's lower categories.
It is one of the Brazilian clubs never to have been relegated from the top-flight national league.