Written by Staff Writer
10 Jan, 2022 | 6:38 pm
Divers were searching a Brazilian lake for victims Sunday after at least 10 people died and dozens were injured when a rock formation tore away from a cliff and slammed onto boats packed with tourists.
— Record TV Minas (@recordtvminas) January 8, 2022
Edgard Estevo, commander of the Minas Gerais State Fire Department, said the accident occurred Saturday in Furnas Lake, between the towns of Sao Jose da Barra and Capitolio.
The local fire department deployed divers and helicopters in a frantic effort to rescue the stunned tourists from the lake.
Police Chief Marcos Pimenta said an unknown number of people were missing.
“We are suffering the pain of a tragedy in our state due to heavy rains, which caused the loosening of a wall of stones in Lake Furnas, in Capitolio,” Minas Gerais Gov. Romeu Zema said on social media. “I stand in solidarity with the families at this difficult time.”
Zema promised to provide “the necessary support” to families of the victims.
Brazil’s Jornal O Globo reported that at least seven of the dead were on a speedboat called “Jesus.”
The Brazilian navy was aiding the rescue and said it would investigate the accident. Video from the scene showed several small boats in a lake when a massive slab of rock tears away from the face of the cliff and slams onto at least one of the boats.
Heavy rains in recent weeks have overwhelmed the region, driving more than 17,000 people from their homes.
Just two days ago, the Brazilian government issued a statement expressing gratitude to the U.S. Agency for International Development for providing funds for cleaning, hygiene and kitchen kits for those displaced by the flooding in the neighboring state of Bahia.
The head of the Applied Geology Division of the Brazilian Geological Service, Tiago Antonelli, said the cliff wall is subject to centuries of erosion and susceptible to rain, heat and cold.
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