Brazil canyon collapse death toll rises to 10 as survivor recounts horror scene

Observers said the rock face fell like a “domino”

Graig Graziosi
Monday 10 January 2022 17:03
Video shows moments before rock falls on boaters in Brazil as search for survivors continues

Three more bodies were recovered from a lake after a massive stone cliff face collapsed onto tourist boats in Brazil on Saturday, bringing the total number of fatalities to 10.

The collapse, which took place near Capitolio, has also left another 32 injured.

One survivor spoke with Brazilian publication Globo, recounting her experiences leading up to the catastrophe. “I looked up at the rock and some pebbles were falling. I even made a comment to the boat’s pilot and he said it was nothing, but just a few pebbles,” Andreia Mendonca said.

She added that the next time she looked up, the cliff was already collapsing on the boats. “The pilot left as fast as he could get us out of there. Very sad, I never imaged we would witness such a scene,” she said.

Video footage from other boats in the vicinity shows tourists pleading with guides to get them away from the cliff faces.

Rescue crews rushed to the scene to help survivors of the collapse. At least 32 survivors have been hospitalised, with nine suffering from serious injuries.

Many of the hospitalised individuals have broken bones, including at least one person who suffered head and facial injuries. Some have exposed fractures, while at least three are in critical condition.

Authorities believe the cliff collapse was caused by excessive rain. A day prior, officials warned people to stay away from waterfalls in the area as they could have been affected by surging waters.

The area where the cliff collapsed is a tourist hotspot thanks to a picturesque waterfall in the same cove. According to Capitolio officials, the town of 8,400 draws around 5,000 visitors every weekend and can attract up to 30,000 over holidays.

Heavy rainfall has soaked the region over the past two weeks, which experts believe may have loosened the rocks near the waterfall.

Local fire official Lieutenant Pedro Aihara told news organisation UOL that rock slides were not unusual, but they are usually much smaller.

“Normally the piece of rock slides down from where it is,” he said. “This time, the structure fell down like a domino and what hit people was the upper part, in a perpendicular trajectory.”

The incident occurred on Furnas Lake, a manmade body of water created by the installation of a hydroelectric plant in 1958.

Rescuers are still combing the site.

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