Tuesday February 27, 2024

Swift fan dies at Rio concert as fans complain about high temperatures, lack of water

Published : 18 Nov 2023, 22:59

  By DIANE JEANTET, AP
Street vendors sell bottled water to Taylor Swift fans amid a heat wave before her Eras Tour concert outside the Nilton Santos Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023. Photo: AP /Silvia Izquierdo.

A 23-year-old Taylor Swift fan died at the singer's Eras Tour concert in Rio de Janeiro Friday night, according to a statement from the show's organizers in Brazil.

The cause of death for Ana Clara Benevides Machado has not yet been announced. The office of Rio's public prosecutor opened a criminal investigation and said Benevides' body was being examined. Fans and politicians were already reacting with outrage, speculating that her death was linked to extreme heat.

The death of the young woman shook the nation — she had taken her first flight ever to travel from Brazil's center-west region to Rio to see her favorite musician. She also created a WhatsApp group to keep her family updated, sending photos and videos every step of the way, family members told online news site G1.

After Benevides' death, concertgoers complained they were not allowed to take water into Nilton Santos Olympic Stadium despite soaring temperatures that reached more than 39 degrees Celsius (102.4 degrees Fahrenheit). As temperatures continued to rise Saturday and with two more shows to go, federal authorities announced that free water would now be made available at concerts and other large events.

One of Benevides' friends, who also went to the concert, told local outlets they had both been given water while waiting to enter the stadium.

In a handwritten note shared on her social media, Swift said she had a "shattered heart."

"There's very little information I have other than the fact that she was so incredibly beautiful and far too young," the singer wrote of the young woman.

The show's organizer, Time4Fun, said on Instagram that paramedics attended to Benevides after she reported feeling unwell. She was taken to a first-aid center and then to a hospital, where she died an hour later, the statement from the Brazilian live entertainment company said.

Fans who attended the Friday show said they were not allowed to bring water bottles into the stadium even though Rio and most of Brazil have had record-breaking temperatures this week amid a dangerous and lasting heat wave. The daytime high in Rio on Friday was 39.1 degrees Celsius (102.4 degrees Fahrenheit), but it felt much hotter.

Apparent temperature — a combination of temperature and humidity — hit 59 C (138 F) Friday morning in Rio, the highest index ever recorded there.

Elizabeth Morin, 26, who recently moved to Rio from Los Angeles, described "sauna-like" conditions inside the stadium.

"It was extremely hot. My hair got so wet from sweat as soon as I came in," she said. "There was a point at which I had to check my breathing to make sure I wasn't going to pass out."

Morin said she drank plenty of water but saw "a good amount of people looking distressed" and others "yelling for water." She said she was able to get water from the sidelines of the area she was standing in, but that water was a lot harder to access from other parts of the stadium, "especially if you were concerned about losing your specific position."

During the show, Swift paused her performance and asked from the stage for water to be brought to a group of people who had successfully caught the singer's attention, according to Morin.

"They were holding up their phones saying 'We need water,'" she recalled.

Two other concetgoers interviewed by The Associated Press said they witnessed people feeling unwell from the heat during the show.

Justice Minister Flávio Dino said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that "water bottles for personal use, in suitable material, will be allowed" at concerts and festivals and that show producers must provide free and easily accessible drinking water.

Swift has two more shows scheduled in Rio, one on Saturday and one on Sunday. State prosecutors said in a statement they would "monitor measures that seek to avoid new problems and guarantee the protection of the health of the public."

Before the show, Benevides posted a video of herself on Instagram wearing a Taylor Swift T-shirt and friendship bracelets, seeking shade under an umbrella while waiting in line to enter the stadium. She had flown in to watch Swift perform, taking a plane for the first time in her life.

In a video she sent to family members and broadcast by TV channel Globo News, she told them: "Mom, look at the plane, it's moving. Mom, I'm on the plane. My God in heaven! I'm happy!"

Like her, thousands of fans waited hours in the sun before being allowed inside.

She told her followers while fanning her face that she'd arrived at 11 a.m. — the show began around 7:30 p.m. — and was "still in the mess."

Benevides' friend, Daniele Menin, who attended the concert with her, told online news site G1 that her friend passed out at the beginning of the concert, as Swift performed her second song, "Cruel Summer."

"We always said that when (Taylor Swift) came to Brazil we would find a way to go. The ticket was very expensive, but we still found a way", Menin told G1.

Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes said on X the "loss of a young woman's life ... is unacceptable."

While authorities are investigating the circumstances of the death, Paes wrote, the municipality will demand Saturday that the show's production company provide new water distribution points, more brigades and ambulances, and advance entrance to the show by one hour.

"I'm not going to be able to speak about this from stage because I feel overwhelmed by grief when I even try to talk about it," Taylo Swift wrote. "I want to say now I feel this loss deeply and my broken heart goes out to her family and friends."