Six people have been confirmed dead after a giant rock dislodged in Brazil canyon near a lake in Capitolio, a city in Minas Gerais state.
In the horrific scene captured on video, boaters were heard screaming as they watched a large slab of rock fall from a canyon onto boats cruising the lake near Capitolio, a city in Minas Gerais state.
Two of the boats were directly hit by the falling stone, but authorities were able to rescue 24 people from those vessels.
Three women and four men were confirmed dead, Pedro Aihara, a spokesperson for the Minas Gerais fire department told newsmen. More than 30 people were treated at the scene of the Capitólio city collapse, and nine were taken to hospitals with serious injuries. One person was in critical condition with head injuries.
Another 20 people are believed to be missing, Reuters reported. Rovilson Teixeira who has worked as a guide in the tourist area for the last six years, said he was stunned by the sight of the falling rocks.
“We are completely shocked, and nobody really knows how many victims are involved.
“There is not just one, not just two but probably many deaths. There are a lot of people with injuries. The region is full of ambulances that have come from other parts of the state to help the victims. No one is sure about the size of this tragedy.”
A spokesman for the Brazilian Navy said they are opening an investigation into the accident. The Governor of Minas Gerais state said in a statement that the accident was likely caused by heavy rains in the area that dislodged the rocks.
Authorities issued warnings for tourists to stay away from waterfalls in the area just hours before the accident.
Minas Gerais governor Romeu Zema said;
“We are suffering the pain of a tragedy in our state due to heavy rains that provoked the accident in the Furnas lake. Rescue workers are still on the scene.
“We are in solidarity with the families at this difficult moment.”
Furnas Lake, which was created in 1958 for the installation of a hydroelectric plant, is a popular tourist draw in the area roughly 260 miles north of Sao Paulo. Officials in Capitolio, which has about 8,400 residents, say the town can see around 5,000 visitors on a weekend, and up to 30,000 on holidays.