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Haiti, Brazil Hold Carnival Celebrations

A masked reveler passes the earthquake damaged National Palace during carnival celebrations in Port-au-Prince,Mar 6 2011

Thousands of Brazilians and foreign tourists are partying in the streets of Rio de Janeiro, where the city's famed Carnival festivities are in full swing.

Carnival parades have been taking place since Sunday, with fireworks and cheers of revelers who have been celebrating for days. Several processions have been staged, featuring extravagant floats with celebrities and scantily dressed bejeweled dancers from several competing samba schools.

Last month, a massive fire swept through the city's warehouse district, destroying thousands of elaborate costumes and floats that had taken nearly a year to make. The cause of the blaze is not known.

Three samba schools that had been affected worked round-the-clock to make the replacement props and costumes in time for the festivities. An estimated 750,000 visitors are expected in Rio during the five-day festival that ends Tuesday.

Festivities also are taking place in Haiti, which canceled its street party last year after a deadly earthquake. Parades through the city center pass buildings ruined by the January 12, 2010 quake, while debris still clutters the streets. Hundreds of thousands of people still live in tent cities around the capital, Port-au-Prince.