Rock-climbing garbage collectors clean Rio hills

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The Independent Online

Using ropes but no brooms, four rock-climbing garbage collectors are tasked with removing tonnes of trash dumped down hillsides by residents of Rio's famed favelas.

Donning helmets, harnesses, gloves and climbing goggles, these trashmen can dangle up to 80 meters (260 feet) in the course of a day picking up "vertical waste" with special hooks and rakes.

"After the cleanup, the amount of bugs and mosquitoes diminishes," said Genilson de Souza, 36, one of the sanitation workers.

The rock-climbing specialists have been employed by a municipal garbage collection company for nearly 10 years but more need to be hired now as hillside neighborhoods that were once no-go zones are now considered safe.

So far, more than 20 favelas have been occupied by the authorities as part of a pacification campaign aimed at cleaning up gang-ridden neighborhoods before the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.

"With no place to put their garbage, residents throw it out their windows, down the hillsides. Now we're going to have to train people to use garbage cans," said Horacio Magalhaes, a member of the Pavao-Pavaozinzho neighborhood association whose Copacabana favela was pacified last year.

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