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The Brazilian carnival will run till February 11 this year and celebrations in Rio de Janeiro are expected to bring in around $665 million for the local economy.
As one of the most flamboyant celebrations in the world, the Rio Carnival should attract around 900,000 tourists to the city, according to Rio’s tourism management agency.
To cope with the security challenges from the huge influx of visitors, Rio’s police department has deployed 14,400 officers to patrol the streets of Rio.
Some 2,500 police cars will also be on call during the holiday.
Half a million tourists are also expected in Brazil’s northern city of Salvador where Korean pop sensation Psy is scheduled to perform.
Various samba schools in the city started their parades in the Sambadrome and in several other parts of the city with almost 500 so-called Carnival blocks.
The revelry, however, is subdued in many places as the country is still mourning the hundreds of victims who died in a nightclub fire last month.
President Dilma Rousseff attended a mass in honour of the fire victims at the cathedral in Brasilia, the capital, on Thursday night.
She will spend the five-day holiday in the northeastern state of Bahia and would not participate in the celebrations.