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Gunfire feared in Rio Olympics media bus attack

Two windows were shattered Tuesday when an Olympic bus carrying journalists was hit by an unknown projectile. There were no serious injuries.

olympics 2016 Updated: Aug 10, 2016 14:28 IST
Rio Olympics,Media bus hit by projectile at Rio,Olympics 2016
A person sits on an official media bus after a window shattered when driving accredited journalists to the Main Transport Mall from the Deodoro venue of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, August 9, 2016. (REUTERS)

A bus carrying Rio Olympics journalists came under attack Tuesday and police were investigating whether bullets were fired from the notorious City of God favela.

Rio 2016 organisers said two journalists suffered slight injuries in the attack, which set off a new Olympic jitters four days after a bullet hit a Games media centre.

Journalists in the bus hurled themselves to the floor after two windows were blown out. The driver put his foot down and got the passengers to the Games’ main press centre.

A retired US Air Force captain who now covers women’s basketball says an Olympic media bus in Rio de Janeiro was hit by gunfire en route from a venue.

Britain’s Press Association on Wednesday quoted Lee Michaelson, who was on the bus Tuesday, as saying that she instinctively hit the floor when she heard the sound of gunfire and “hollered to the others ... ‘Get down! Get down! We are taking fire.’”

Technician Kaan Korkmaz has water poured on a lesion caused when a window of an official media bus shattered after the incident. (Reuters)

Michaelson says “I know what a gun sounds like. There was a very distinctive sound of the report of a gun. It was the sound before I ever saw the glass (shatter) or anything.”

Police are investigating but Olympic officials say it’s not clear whether the incident was caused by bullets or stones.

Michaelson says both the bus driver and Olympic officials sorely lacked training. The driver slowed down and pulled over, which she says is “precisely the opposite of what he should have done, which was to put the gas on and floor it.”

When they returned to the Olympic park, she says there was no medical help waiting, despite some passengers being injured and bleeding.

Rio 2016 said in a statement that police and army patrols had been stepped up but gave few indications on the cause. Rio is notorious for gun crime and gang violence.

The bus was returning from the Deodoro Olympic zone to the main press centre and was passing near the City of God slum district when it was hit.

“Two impacts on the right side of the bus shattered two windows. A reporter from Belarus suffered a cut hand. There is confusion as to whether it was bullets or stones,” Gaston Sainz of the Argentinian daily La Nacion, who was on the bus, said.

First Published: Aug 10, 2016 07:44 IST