BRASILIA, Brazil – A towering rock broke off a cliff and overturned boaters drifting near a waterfall on a Brazilian lake Saturday, and officials say at least six people have died.
Edgard Estevo, commander of the Minas Gerais State Fire Department, said at a news conference that in addition to those killed, there could be 20 people missing and officials were trying to identify them.
Officials said at least 32 people were injured, though most had been discharged by Saturday night.
Video footage shows a group of small boats slowing down near the sheer ledge on Lake Furnas when a crack appeared in the rock and a large piece capsized at least two of the ships.
Estevo said the crash happened between the towns of Sao Jose da Barra and Capitolio, where the boats had left.
The state press office of Minas Gerais told the AP news agency that the fire department had deployed divers and helicopters to help. Governor of Minas Gerais Romeu Zema sent a message of solidarity to the victims via social media.
Lake Furnas, created in 1958 to install a hydroelectric power station, is a popular tourist attraction in the area about 420 kilometers (260 mi) north of Sao Paulo. Officials in Capitolio, which has about 8,400 residents, say the town can host about 5,000 visitors on weekends and up to 30,000 on holidays.
Officials say the impending wall may be related to recent heavy rains that caused flooding in the state that has forced nearly 17,000 people from their homes.
Early last year, concern was over a lack of rain as Brazil experienced its worst drought in 91 years, prompting officials to warn about water flow from the Lake Furnas dam.
The Brazilian Navy, also involved in the rescue, said it would investigate the cause of the accident.
Even during the dry season, in some areas of the lake, the movement is so intense that boats have to take turns navigating the lake, the City Hall press office said.
https://www.twincities.com/2022/01/08/wall-of-rock-falls-on-boaters-on-brazilian-lake-killing-6/ Falling rock wall hits boaters on Lake Brazil, killing 6 – Twin Cities