28 Feb 2011

Power cable felled by parade fireworks, killing 17

11:59 pm on 28 February 2011

At least 17 people have died after being electrocuted in Brazil as they were taking part in a street parade.

Reports say fireworks caused a power cable to fall onto a crowd of partygoers in the town of Bandeiro do Sul, north of Rio de Janeiro. Dozens more were hurt in the accident.

A crush of people were dancing near a truck playing loud music in the main square when the cable came loose and fell among the revellers, said reports.

The town was plunged into darkness and telephone services were disrupted immediately after the accident.

"It was chaos. People were electrocuted, and many people fell off the music truck. At that moment the lights went out. It was awful," Daniel de Oliveira Castro, 25, told the Brazilian news website Folha.com.

The exact cause of the accident is not yet clear, with some accounts suggesting a firework set off by someone in the crowd tore the cable off and others suggesting the music truck pulled it down.

"We will know what really happened once firefighters complete their investigation," said Mayor Jose Capituva.

The street parade was one of several scheduled in the run-up to Carnival itself, which begins on Friday.