Dramatic video shows cliff collapse on tourist boats, killing 10 people in Brazil

Ten people died when a cliff collapsed on tourist boats on a lake in Brazil, officials said on Sunday after the bodies of two missing people were found. On Saturday, a large fragment of rock broke off from a ravine and plunged four boats into Lake Furnas in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, as panicked tourists watched helplessly from other vessels.

Spectacular videos shared on social media captured the moment the cliff crumbled.

The bodies of the other two missing people were found by rescuers on Sunday, Civil Police Commissioner Marcos de Souza Pimenta told reporters.

More than 30 people were injured, including nine who required hospitalization, authorities said.

The rock wall of the canyon is collapsing on tourists at Brazil waterfall
Minas Gerais state firefighters search for victims after a rock wall collapsed over motorboats under a waterfall in Capitolio, Minas Gerais state, Brazil, January 8, 2022 .

MINAS GERAIS FIREFIGHTERS via Getty


The death toll on Saturday was originally seven, with three people missing.

The 10 people who died were part of a group of family and friends on the boat that suffered the biggest impact from the rock fall, rescuers said.

The victims were all Brazilian nationals, between the ages of 14 and 68, according to preliminary investigations.

Ramilton Rodrigues, a friend of one of those killed, was waiting with family members for the bodies to arrive at a forensic institute in Passos, a town about 27 miles from the crash site .

My friend “came to the Capitolio district to celebrate his birthday, he would have been 25 this Sunday, but was killed a day earlier,” Rodrigues told AFP while waiting.

Tourists flock to see the cliffs, caverns and waterfalls that surround the green waters of Lake Furnas, formed by the hydroelectric dam of the same name.

A video, shared on social media, showed the minute before the incident, with several people warning that “lots of stones are falling” and shouting at occupants of other boats to move away from the rock face.

President Jair Bolsonaro retweeted some of these videos on his account, and said that “as soon as the unfortunate disaster occurred, the Brazilian Navy moved to the site to rescue the victims and transport the injured”.

In one declarationBolsonaro said officials would “investigate the causes and circumstances” of the deadly incident.

A team of divers had to interrupt their search overnight for safety reasons, but other rescuers continued to work. Divers resumed their search on Sunday.

Extremely heavy rains have fallen in southeastern Brazil in recent days, possibly precipitating the collapse, firefighters said. On Saturday, a dike overflowed at an iron ore mine 300 kilometers to the east, Reuters reported.

The head of the Brazilian geological service’s applied geology division, Tiago Antonelli, told The Associated Press that the cliff wall is subject to centuries of erosion and susceptible to rain, heat and cold.

“It’s normal for this to happen in many canyons, even with rocks of this size. But nowadays, with the increase in tourism, people are starting to approach these places and record these phenomena with their cell phones,” Antonelli said.

Geographer Eduardo Bulhoes of the Federal University of Fluminense told AFP that rockfalls in the area, where natural erosion continuously occurs, were more likely to occur during the rainy months of December and January.

Joana Sánchez, professor of geology at the Federal University of Goiás, told the AP that authorities should have controlled the site to avoid accidents, especially during the rainy season. The boats should have been kept at least a kilometer away from the waterfall where the accident happened, she said.

Collapse of a canyon wall in southeastern Brazil
Vanessa Oliveira Ferreira, 33, mother of a 14-year-old boy, waits at the Forensic Medical Institute (IML) for the release of bodies to continue burial after a giant boulder collapse fell on the upper boat on the Furnas lake in Capitolio, on January 09, 2022, in Passos, Brazil.

Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images


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