Toll climbs to 8 in Brazil cliff collapse, 2 missing

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Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – Rescue workers searched Sunday for two people still missing as the death toll rose to eight from a cliff that collapsed on board tourist boats in a lake in Brazil, officials said.

Rescue official Rodrigo Castro in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais said he had found the latest underwater body, bringing the death toll to seven on Saturday.

“We have eight confirmed fatalities and we still need to find two missing victims,” ​​he said.

On Saturday, terrified tourists from other ships watched helplessly when a large chunk of rock smashed into a ravine and landed on four boats in Lake Furnas.

Authorities said more than 30 people were injured, including nine who were hospitalized.

Tourists flock to see the cliffs, caves and waterfalls that surround the green waters of Lake Furnas in Brazil Bulletin of the administration of Pomperos de Minas Gerais / AFP

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

Dramatic videos shared on social networks captured the moment the cliff collapsed.

One of them, circulated on social media, showed the moment before the accident, with several people warning that “a lot of stones are falling” and yelling at the passengers of other boats to get away from the face of the rock.

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

A diving squad had to stop their search overnight for safety reasons, but other rescuers continued to operate. Divers resumed the search on Sunday.

In the Furnas Lake area, rockfall is most likely during the rainy months of December and January
In the Furnas Lake area, rockfall is most likely during the rainy months of December and January Bulletin of the administration of Pomperos de Minas Gerais / AFP

Very heavy rain has fallen in recent days in southeastern Brazil, firefighters said, which could lead to the avalanche.

Geographer Eduardo Bolhos of the Federal University of Fluminense told AFP that rockfall in the area, where natural erosion is constantly occurring, is most likely to occur during the rainy months of December and January.

He said that to avoid accidents in the future, it would be advisable to keep tourists away from the slopes during the season.

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