19 Nov 2023

Taylor Swift fan dies at show in sweltering Rio de Janeiro

10:55 am on 19 November 2023

By Marcela Ayres and Rodrigo Viga Gaier

Taylor Swift on stage in the concert movie Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour

Taylor Swift performing on her Eras tour (file photo). Photo: Taylor Swift Productions

US singer Taylor Swift has postponed her show on Saturday in Rio de Janeiro due to scorching heat, the day after the death of a fan who fell ill in the sweltering concert venue.

"The decision has been made to postpone tonight's show due to the extreme temperatures in Rio," Swift wrote on Instagram about two hours before she was to go on stage. "The safety and well-being of my fans, fellow performers, and crew has to, and always will, come first."

Ana Clara Benevides, 23, became unwell at the Nilton Santos stadium, event organiser T4F wrote on Instagram. It said she was promptly attended to by medical staff, and then taken to an on-site medical station, before being transferred to the Salgado Filho Hospital, where she died.

Rio state health service said she arrived at hospital with her heart stopped. Her cause of death is unknown, and will be investigated.

Some 60,000 fans had gathered for Swift's sell-out concert at the stadium, which is located far from Rio's breezy picture-postcard beaches in a hotter northern neighbourhood.

The show took place on the same day that Rio recorded its highest ever reading of the so-called heat index, which combines temperature and humidity, at 59.3 degrees Celsius.

Intense heatwaves, attributed to the El Niño phenomenon and a rise in global temperatures, have gripped multiple Brazilian states, with temperatures surpassing historical averages since July, according to the National Institute of Meteorology, which estimated that 2023 will be the hottest year since the 1960s.

During the concert, several fans fell ill, prompting Swift to interrupt her performance and request that the production team provide them with water, videos showed.

Justice Minister Flavio Dino announced that the government would issue a directive allowing water bottles to be brought into concerts.

"Companies producing shows with high heat exposure must provide free drinking water in easily accessible 'hydration islands.' The measure is effective immediately," he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The announcement followed National Consumer Secretary Wadih Damous's post on X stressing the government had ordered T4F to guarantee water access at all of Swift's concerts in Brazil.

T4F did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Swift - who is scheduled to perform in Rio on Saturday and Sunday, followed by three shows in Sao Paulo between November 24 and 26 - offered condolences to Benevides' family and friends.

"I'm not going to able to speak about this from the stage because I feel overwhelmed by grief when I even try to talk about it," she wrote on Instagram. "This is the last thing I ever thought would happen when we decided to bring this tour to Brazil."

Reuters witnessed fans suffering in the heat on Saturday as they waited to get in the show later.

Swift had been welcomed to Rio by a projection on the Christ the Redeemer statue. She wrote that her fan died "before my show." However, Benevides' friends told local media that she became ill after the concert began.

Heat exhaustion, which can include dizziness, headaches, shaking and thirst, is not usually serious, providing the person cools down within 30 minutes.

The more serious version is heat-stroke, when the body's core temperature goes above 40.6 degrees Celsius. It is a medical emergency and can lead to long-term organ damage and death.

This story was first published by Reuters.

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