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Seven dead and three missing when a huge rock face fell in Brazil

Authorities suspect that heavy rainfall in recent days put pressure on the canyon walls, which may have caused the landslide.

At least seven people died, three are missing, and thirty were injured after a huge rocky wall of a canyon crashed this Saturday on some tourist boats in a lake in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, which suffers from a heavy rainstorm. in the last days.

The Minas Gerais Fire Department initially reported 20 missing persons, but hours later it substantially reduced that number after contacting a good part of those victims who had been rescued alive by other boats.

The accident also left around thirty injured, four of whom are hospitalized.

It happened around 11:00 local time (14:00 GMT) in Lake Furnas, a tourist spot in the municipality of Capitólio (southeast), when a large block of stone fell from a height of five meters onto four boats, from both of which were hit squarely.

A video that circulates on social networks and whose authenticity was confirmed to Efe by firefighters shows the moment when the huge rock detaches itself from the canyon wall and falls on the group of boats that were in the lake.

In another video moments before the accident, the affected boats are observed trying to get away from the canyon wall, amid the warnings and shouts of the people who were in the surrounding boats.

The firefighters stopped the search work when it got dark for safety reasons and will resume them this Sunday morning.

Brazilian authorities suspect that heavy rainfall in recent days put pressure on the canyon walls, which may have caused the landslide.

The spokesman for the Minas Gerais Fire Department, Pedro Aihara, explained in statements to the ‘GloboNews’ channel that this region of canyons is made up of sedimentary rocks “more susceptible to the actions of wind and rain” and, therefore, “presents less resistance “.

“We are in a fairly rainy period, which has been able to accelerate the penetration of water into the rocky structure,” he said.

For its part, the Brazilian Navy reported in a note that it had opened an investigation to clarify the causes and circumstances of the accident.

The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, described the event as a “regrettable disaster” and highlighted the role of the Navy in rescue and relief efforts for the victims.

For his part, the governor of Minas Gerais, Romeu Zema, also regretted what happened on his social networks and expressed solidarity “with the families at this difficult time.

“We will continue to act to provide the necessary support and protection,” he said.

The town of Capitólio, located about 280 kilometers from Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais (southeast), is a tourist destination throughout the year due to its impressive gorges that can be visited by boat rides.

At another point in Minas Gerais, heavy rains also caused the overflow of a dam at the French steelmaker Vallourec on Saturday, which forced the highway that connects Belo Horizonte with Rio de Janeiro to be cut, without any fatalities. (I)

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