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Australian athletes face thefts and fire at Olympic village

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 29:  Australian Olympic Team Chef de Mission Kitty Chiller speaks to the media during an Australian Olympic Team Press Confer
Image: Australian Olympic Team Chef de Mission Kitty Chiller was angered after discovering the building's fire alarms had been deactivated

Australian athletes were forced to evacuate their lodgings in the Rio Olympic village on Friday after a small fire that broke out in a basement car park caused smoke to fill the stairwells of the Australia team building.

Nobody was hurt but approximately 100 athletes and officials were forced to leave the building, returning around 30 minutes later. An investigation is now underway to determine the cause of the fire.

In the latest drama in the ongoing saga at the athletes' village, it was later alleged on Sunday that laptops and team shirts had been stolen during the short evacuation.

View of the Olympic and Paralympic Village for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 23, 2016. / AFP / YASUYOSHI CHIBA        (Phot
Image: Laptops and team shirts went missing after the evacuation

"We did lose some shirts and a couple of laptops, one on the fifth floor from a cycling official and one in the office downstairs," said the Australian Olympic Committee spokesman Mike Tancred.

Chef de Mission of the Australian team, Kitty Chiller, was left angered after discovering the fire alarms had been disabled without her or the rest of the team's knowledge.

She also blamed the fire on a lit cigarette being left on rubbish by workers outside the building, despite the fact that smoking is banned in the village.

"There's a lot of rubbish around this place, which a lot of countries have been talking about for the past few days, left from contractors, left from workers, left from various countries coming in," Chiller said.

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"There are a lot of workers and contractors smoking in the village. The athletes' village is a non-smoking venue. We have asked for a reminder to go out to all staff that there is no smoking.

"What we think has happened is a cigarette has been thrown in a rubbish bin or on rubbish and that's what started the fire.

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"I think it's all wrapped into the fact that the village isn't perhaps as ready as we thought it was," Chiller added. "The fire alarm had been silenced in our building while they were doing maintenance work on the building next door. So the alarms and the sprinklers did not activate.

"It's concerning that the fire system had been turned off and that we hadn't been aware of it."

View of an athlete's room at the Olympic and Paralympic Village for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 23, 2016. / AFP / YASUYOS
Image: One of the athletes' rooms at the Olympic and Paralympic Village

The incident comes after a tension-filled week in which Australia refused to occupy its building, citing gas leaks, blocked toilets and general filth.

At least a dozen other teams also complained of problems that affected about 400 of the 3,600 rooms in the sprawling compound.

Rio officials on Thursday declared the compound "fully ready" after deploying hundreds of plumbers and electricians, who worked around the clock to ready the buildings.

Australia finally moved staff and athletes into the village on Wednesday, three days after the official opening on Sunday.

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