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Family, friends mourn as death toll rises to 10 in Brazil cliff fall tragedy

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Family, friends mourn as death toll rises to 10 in Brazil cliff fall tragedy

Friends and family mourned the deaths of 10 people Sunday when a cliff collapsed on tourist boats in a lake in Brazil, after the deaths of two people were confirmed missing in the tragedy.

On Saturday, a large chunk of rock dislodged from a ravine and fell onto four boats in Lake Furnas, in eastern Brazil’s Minas Gerais state, as terrified tourists watched helplessly from other boats.

The bodies of the two remaining missing were found Sunday by rescuers, Civil Police Commissioner Marcos de Souza Pimenta told reporters.

More than 30 people were injured, including nine who had to be hospitalized, authorities said.

The 10 who died were part of a group of family and friends on the boat that was hit the hardest by the rockslide, according to rescuers.

The victims were all Brazilian nationals, ranging in age from 14 to 68, according to preliminary investigations.

Tourists flock to see the cliffs, caverns and waterfalls that surround the green waters of Lake Furnas, formed by the hydroelectric dam of the same name.

Dramatic videos shared on social media captured the moment the cliff collapsed.

One of those videos showed the minute before the incident, with several people warning that “many stones were falling” and shouting at the occupants of other boats to move away from the rocky wall.

President Jair Bolsonaro retweeted some of these videos on his account, calling the cliff fall a “disaster.”

Ramilton Rodrigues, a friend of one of the deceased, was waiting with relatives for the bodies to arrive at a forensic institute in Passos, a city about 44 kilometers from the accident site.

My friend “came to the area of ​​the Capitol to celebrate his birthday, this Sunday he would have turned 25, but he was killed the day before,” Rodrigues told AFP while he waited in the midst of great anguish.

A dive team had to stop their search overnight for safety reasons, but other rescuers continued to work. The divers resumed their search on Sunday.

Extremely heavy rains have fallen in recent days in southeastern Brazil, possibly precipitating the landslide, according to firefighters.

Geographer Eduardo Bulhoes, from the Fluminense Federal University, told AFP that rockfalls in the area were more likely during the rainy months of December and January.

To avoid future accidents, he said, it would be advisable to keep tourists further away from the cliffs during the rainy season.

Source Credit: TheGuardian

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