30 Jul 2016

Fire at Aussie's Olympic Village building

4:22 pm on 30 July 2016

Australia's Olympic team were forced to briefly evacuate their building at the Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro because of a fire in the basement on Friday, one week before the Games open.

About 100 officials and athletes were briefly evacuated when the fire broke out in a car park rubbish bin.

The fire, which filled the stairwells of the building with smoke, caused no injuries and the team was back in the building after around half an hour, a team spokesperson said.

It is believed the fire was caused by a cigarette. The Olympic Village is a non-smoking venue.

It was the latest incident in a tense week at the Olympic Village, where Australia and several other teams complained about unfinished and dirty rooms before moving in.

"We are all accounted for," said Mike Tancred, director of media and communications for the Australian Olympic Committee, adding that the fire did not appear to have been serious.

"It was a good drill for us. We cleared all 23 floors of the building," he said.

A spokesman for Rio's fire department declined to comment.

Kitty Chiller, the head of the Australian delegation, had complained on Sunday about exposed wiring and blocked toilets, saying accommodation at the Village was "not safe or ready" for the games, which open on 5 Aug.

Ms Chiller had initially refused to let her team stay in the Village, but moved athletes in this week after organisers deployed a task force of 600 workers to tackle repairs.

She is meeting with Olympic Village and IOC officials after it was revealed that fire alarms in the building had been silenced.

Ms Chiller said the team received a certificate two days ago to say the building complied with fire standards.

"What we have subsequently found is that the fire alarms had been silenced while they were carrying out maintenance on the building next door to ours," she said.

"We hadn't been advised that the fire alarms were silenced, so how we found out was basically smoke in the corridors and stairwells.

"It's absolutely not satisfactory at all."

- Reuters