Thursday, February 22, 2024

One fan died and many others fainted at Taylor Swift’s concert Friday in Rio de Janeiro, where temperatures felt like nearly 140 degrees, a record for the city, and fans said they struggled to get water.

Ana Clara Benevides, 23, lost consciousness at the concert and later was pronounced dead of cardiac arrest after being taken to the hospital, according to city officials and the Brazilian company organizing the show, Time For Fun.

There were widespread complaints about the extreme heat and lack of water from fans inside the open-air soccer stadium, where Ms. Swift was performing for more than 60,000 people in the first of three sold-out shows in Rio this weekend as part of the South American stretch of her record-breaking Eras Tour.

Ms. Swift’s fans said on social media that they were prohibited from bringing water into the stadium, while other fans said vendors struggled to reach the people near the stage. Videos showed Ms. Swift throwing a water bottle to one fan and instructing stadium staff to get water to other fans as people in the crowd chanted for water.

The tragedy paired two of the year’s major story lines: rising temperatures and the hysteria for Ms. Swift’s global tour.

In Argentina, where Ms. Swift played last week, some fans camped out for more than five months to try to get a spot closer to the stage. In Brazil, a day after Ms. Benevides’s death, fans were lining up for Ms. Swift’s next scheduled concert on Saturday, when forecasts showed it could be even hotter.

In an online post, Ms. Swift said she was “devastated” by her fan’s death. “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,” she said.

Wadih Damous, the head of Brazil’s consumer protection agency, said his agency had ordered the concert’s organizers, Time For Fun, to provide free water at various locations at Ms. Swift’s shows on Saturday and Sunday.

“The decision to prevent thousands of people from drinking water in 60-degree Celsius heat is insane and irresponsible,” Mr. Damous said. He said the government would investigate Time For Fun.

The company said Saturday that it would add staff at the concert, provide free water and allow fans to enter with water and food.

Parts of Brazil have been suffering under a sweltering heat wave this week, with temperatures breaking records and the national meteorological institute issuing safety alerts to 15 states. In Rio, temperatures surpassed 106 degrees, or 41 degrees Celsius, on Friday. The heat index, a measure of how hot the air feels because of humidity, hit 139 degrees, a record for the city.

It appears almost certain that 2023 will be Earth’s hottest year on record, with global temperatures hitting record highs in each of the past five months, from June through October. Scientists have said that the year’s record heat has been driven by the continued emissions of heat-trapping gases, mostly from the burning of oil, gas and coal, as well as the return of El Niño, a cyclical weather pattern.

Brazilian government institutions have said that since June, El Niño has changed the region’s weather patterns, increasing temperatures in the Pacific Ocean near South America by three degrees Celsius, while bringing more rain to the south and droughts to the north.

Felipe Galvão, 28, a systems analyst, was on the field level near the stage on Friday when people started getting sick from the extreme heat even before the concert started. By the time the show began, so many people had gotten sick and left their places that he was able to reach the railing along the stage.

“I’ve been going to concerts since 2011, but I’ve never experienced anything like this,” he said. “There was little staff and unfortunately they couldn’t do much for the fans. You could tell that even they were a little lost.”

Fabíola Gerbase, a journalist and designer, said she already disliked stadium concerts because of the crowds and overpriced concessions, so she was further disgusted when she read the news of the fan’s death and the difficulties concertgoers had in getting water.

But Ms. Gerbase said she was still planning to attend Saturday’s show despite the extreme heat, because her 11-year-old daughter “is counting the minutes to see her onstage.”

Paulo Motoryn contributed reporting from Brasília.

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