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Video: Collapsing Cliff Strikes Tour Boat in Minas Gerais, Killing 10

bystander video
Bystander video courtesy President Jair Bolsonaro / Twitter

Published Jan 9, 2022 6:42 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Saturday, a cliff collapsed onto a tourist boat on Furnas Lake, a dam impoundment in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. The accident killed 10 people, including the skipper.

Multiple bystanders recorded the incident, and videos show that several rockslides preceded the collapse. A cluster of small craft were located nearby, and in the 60 seconds prior to the incident, the passengers of other boats attempted to warn vessels closer in that they should leave the area. The slides intensified, followed by the collapse of the cliff face. 

The initial death toll stood at 7, but the bodies of additional missing people were located by dive teams on Sunday. The victims were from a tour group, and all knew each other and were staying together, according to authorities. 

Identification of the remains has been difficult, medical examiner Marcos Amaral told Estado de Minas, because the cliff section crushed the boat and its occupants with "very high energy." 

30 additional people were injured, including nine who were taken to the hospital for treatment. 

The cause of the casualty is under investigation, but local officials believe that recent heavy rains may have contributed to the collapse. It is not being handled as a criminal investigation, but as a safety inquiry. 

Geologist Guilherme de Freitas told Estado de Minas that the canyon complex where the accident occurred is full of similar hazards, and that public safety measures could have prevented the tragedy. Defined safety corridors, buoy markers and regulations on navigation close to the canyon walls could all help, he said. 

"If these people start to examine the channels of the canyons, they will observe a hundred - maybe even thousands - of situations similar to that one. It is a natural situation, very common," he said.