Collapse of rocks in Capitol

Article

January 26, 2022

The Rockfall at Capitólio was a disaster that occurred in the early afternoon of January 8, 2022, at Lake Furnas in Capitólio, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Ten people died and 32 were injured.

Background

Lake Furnas in Capitólio, Minas Gerais, Brazil, attracts many tourists looking for speedboat rides and diving in the region. The canyons at the site are formed by rocks over twenty meters high. The formation of the place is of sedimentary rocks and, therefore, more susceptible to the action of wind and rain. In the late morning of January 8, 2022, the same day of the accident, the Civil Defense of Minas Gerais had issued an alert for heavy rains in the Capitólio region with the possibility of a "water head": "Avoid waterfalls in the rainy season ".

Accident

The collapse occurred around 12:30 pm (local time) on Lake Furnas in Capitólio, in the Escarpas do Lago condominium, affecting four boats with tourists. About 70 to 100 people were at the site, which was isolated and closed. The Fire Department initially reported that a "waterspout" next to rocks caused the landslide, causing them to fall from a height of more than five meters. However, according to Gustavo Cunha Melo, a specialist in risk management, the waterspout may have acted as a trigger for the landslide, but was not necessarily the cause of the problem. For Melo, the rock would come off anyway, because of erosion. The spokesman for the Minas Gerais Fire Department, Pedro Aihara, explained that the rock formation at the site and the rains in the region made it easier for the landslide to occur; and that the way the rock fell aggravated the situation. The specialist in risk management and safety Gerardo Portela reported, in an interview with CNN, that images published on social networks showed that the occupants of the vessels were alerted by people around about the risk collapse of the structure, but the initiative to move away from the risk region took a while to happen: "These last images reveal that there was time to prevent people from being hit, there were visual signs, there were probably noises, because pieces of rocks were fallen on the water, it is regrettable". Portela also reported that there was an "unpreparedness": "We observed that the speedboats were overcrowded, with the bow pointed towards the place of risk, it should be positioned with the bow on the opposite side for an eventual need to abandon the area. succession of failures, people farther away were realizing the risk, but they there, even though they were professionals, were not able to get the right attention".

Rescue

34 people were involved in the accident. In all, 10 deaths were confirmed by the Fire Department. The Air Operations Battalion, in addition to divers, were mobilized to work on site. More than 40 military personnel were in the region and an aircraft began to search. The Furnas River Station immediately moved Search and Rescue (SAR) teams to the scene. All the victims were taken to hospitals in the region. Three were taken to São José da Barra. Two injured in a more serious condition had fractures in the upper limbs and will be sent to Piumhi and Passos in municipal ambulances. Another stable patient had a trauma to the face. The others had minor injuries. 32 people were treated for the accident, most with minor injuries. 27 were attended to and released: 23 of them from Santa Casa de Capitólio and another 4 from Santa Casa de São José da Barra. Four remain hospitalized.

Victims

Repercussion

A video began to circulate on social media showing the accident and its veracity was confirmed. The Brazilian Navy released an official note shortly afterwards, stating: "An inquiry will be launched to investigate the causes, circumstances of the

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