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Pilgrims’ exodus sparks transit chaos in Brazil

July 29, 2013

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Huge crowds of pilgrims leaving Rio de Janeiro after Pope Francis’ visit have clogged the city’s airports and bus terminals.

Long lines at check-in counters snaked through the Antonio Carlos Jobim international airport and the city’s Santos Dumont domestic airport on Monday. Similar lines were also reported at bus terminals.

Brazilian media show images of exhausted pilgrims camping out at airports or waiting in interminable lines.

Transit was snarled throughout the pope’s weeklong visit, which wrapped up late Sunday. Authorities had closed key thoroughfares and blocked off entire neighborhoods to through traffic, worsening the city’s already chronic transit woes.

On Sunday, Francis’ final mass on Copacabana beach drew an estimated 3 million people.

Authorities say it could be several days before the city returns to normal.