One fan died and several others fainted at a Taylor Swift concert Friday in Rio de Janeiro, where the temperature was nearly 140 degrees Fahrenheit, a record for the city, and fans said they had difficulty getting water.
Ana Clara Benevides, 23, lost consciousness during the concert and was later pronounced dead of cardiac arrest after being taken to hospital, according to city authorities and the Brazilian company organizing the show, Time for Fun.
There have been widespread complaints about extreme heat and lack of water from fans inside the outdoor soccer stadium, where Ms. Swift performed in front of more than 60,000 people on Friday in the first of three shows sold out Rio this weekend as part of the South American leg of his record-breaking Eras Tour.
Hours before taking the stage on Saturday night, Ms. Swift announced on social media that the show would be postponed due to extreme temperatures in Rio.
“The safety and well-being of my fans, fellow artists and crew must and will always come first,” he wrote.
Ms. Swift’s fans said on social media that they were banned from bringing water into the stadium on Friday, while other fans said vendors struggled to reach people near the stage. The videos showed Ms Swift throwing a water bottle at a fan and ordering stadium staff to bring water to others as people in the crowd chanted for water.
The tragedy brought together two of the year’s major storylines: rising temperatures and hysteria over Ms. Swift’s global tour.
In Argentina, where Ms. Swift performed last week, some fans camped out for more than five months to try to get a seat closer to the stage. In Brazil, a day after Ms. Benevides’ death, fans lined up early to get into Saturday’s show even as temperatures continued to drop. It’s the second show Swift has had to postpone due to last week’s extreme weather: Her Nov. 10 show in Buenos Aires was moved to Nov. 12.
In an online post, Ms Swift said she was “devastated” by her fan’s death. “I won’t be able to talk about it from the stage because I feel overwhelmed with grief even when I try to talk about it,” she said.
Wadih Damous, the head of Brazil’s consumer protection agency, said his agency had ordered concert organizers to provide free water at various locations during Ms. Swift’s performances on Saturday and Sunday.
“The decision to prevent thousands of people from drinking water with a temperature of 60 degrees Celsius is crazy and irresponsible,” Damous said. He said the government would investigate Time for Fun.
The company said Saturday it will add staff, provide free water and allow fans into the stadium with water and food.
Parts of Brazil have been hit by a stifling heatwave this week, with temperatures breaking records and the National Meteorological Institute issuing safety warnings to 15 states. In Rio, temperatures on Friday topped 106 degrees Fahrenheit, or 41 degrees Celsius. The heat index, a measure of how warm the air is due to humidity, reached 139 degrees Fahrenheit, a record for the city.
It seems almost certain that 2023 will be Earth’s hottest year on record, with global temperatures reaching record levels in each of the past five months, from June to October. Scientists said the year’s record heat was caused by 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 El Niño has changed the region’s weather patterns since June, raising temperatures in the Pacific Ocean near South America by three degrees Celsius, bringing more rain to the south and drought to the north.
Felipe Galvão, 28, a systems analyst, was on the field near the stage on Friday when people started getting sick from the heat even before the concert began. By the time the show began, so many people had gotten sick and left their seats that he made it to the railing along the stage.
“I’ve been going to concerts since 2011, but I’ve never experienced anything like this,” he said. “There were very few staff and unfortunately they couldn’t do much for the fans. “You could see they were a little lost too.”
Paolo Motoryn contributed reporting from Brasilia.