At least seven people have died and nine were seriously injured after part of a canyon collapsed on top of two boats carrying tourists at a popular sightseeing spot in southeast Brazil.
Authorities said three people were still missing after others feared lost were located by telephone. Divers searched the lake.
The collapse took place near a picturesque waterfall in a canyon located near the popular tourist village of Capitolio, in the southeast of Brazil, on Saturday.
Dramatic footage captured the moment a huge slice of the rock wall breaks off from the canyon and begins to slowly fall forward on top of two tourist boats.
Passengers can be heard screaming as the cliffside crashes directly on one of the boats, engulfing the other nearby ship and sending waves and debris flying to the other vessels touring the area.
Authorities said at least 32 people have been taken to hospital and nine are still recovering from serious injuries.
The people hospitalized in the accident had broken bones and one was in serious condition in hospital with head and facial injuries.
Shocking video captured the moment the cliffside fell on two tourist boats
The crash engulfed the two tourist ships and sent debris flying to the other nearby boats
Video from other boats revealed that that the tourist ships had been worried about the cliffside and were urging the other boats to get away moments before the tragedy.
The passengers could be heard screaming out to the others to move away, with their pleas growing as rocks began chipping and falling away from the cliffside.
Rovilson Teixeira, an experienced boat operator, told the local press he expects more victims to be found. He added that he had never seen anything like this before in the area.
‘We are all stunned, nobody knows how many victims, but I can already say that it wasn’t just one or two deaths, but many deaths. There are a lot of injured people.
‘The place is full of ambulances from all over the region that came to deal with the victims, but nobody can yet process the scale of this tragedy.’
The collapse, described as ‘like a domino’, is thought to have been caused by excessive rain. Authorities had warned locals earlier that day to avoid waterfalls in the area, which may have been vulnerable to large volumes of water.
The region has been under heavy rainfall for two weeks, which could have loosened the rock face. On Saturday, a dike overflowed at an iron ore mine 300 kilometers to the east, cutting off a major federal highway.
The tourists boats were heard warning each other about the dangers at the cliff as rocks began falling off. Two ships were still close to the cliffside when it came down
Minas Gerais Fire Department road out to help with the rescue effort on Saturday
The collapse took place near a picturesque waterfall as tourist boats made their way through
Lieutenant Pedro Aihara, spokesperson for the local fire department, said rock collapses in the region are normal – but not in this scale or trajectory.
‘Normally the piece of rock slides down from where it is,’ he told news portal UOL. ‘This time, the structure fell down like a domino and what hit people was the upper part, in a perpendicular trajectory.’
According to local reports, of the victims still in hospital two have exposed fractures, four have light injuries and three are in a grave condition.
The Brazilian Navy have opened an investigation into the causes of the tragedy.
Source: Daily Mail