A survivor of the Brazil cliff collapse – whose death toll has climbed to 10 – said she told her boat captain that she noticed a few pebbles falling into the water moments before tragedy struck, according to reports.
But he shrugged it off as fellow tourists snapped photos, Andréia Mendonça told Jornal O Globo, according to The US Sun.
“We stopped, took pictures and it was time for everyone to take their place and start to leave,” she told the local news outlet.
“I looked up at the rock and some pebbles were falling. I even made a comment to the boat’s pilot and he said it was nothing but just a few pebbles,” Mendonça said.
“When I looked again, that huge rock was already falling, that huge piece of rock,” she said. “I looked at that many boats below and a horrible scene. The pilot left as fast as he could to get us out of there.
“Very sad, I never imagined he would witness such a scene,” the woman added.
Horrifying video captured the moment the massive slab of rock dislodged from a scenic canyon in southern Brazil on Saturday, smashing into three boats cruising the lake near Capitólio, a city in Minas Gerais state.
The death toll has risen to 10 after six were initially reported to have been killed, police said Sunday.
At least 32 people were injured, though most were released from hospitals by late Saturday.
The victims were all Brazilians, aged between 14 and 68, according to Agence France-Presse, which cited preliminary investigations.
Police Chief Marcos Pimenta said there was a possibility that some people were still missing after the accident and divers were searching the lake just in case.
Coroners have been working to identify the bodies, which were taken to Passos city, but the work was difficult because of the ″high energy impact″ of the rock on the victims, said police official Marcos Pimenta.
He said one victim has been identified as Júlio Borges Antunes, 68.
Ramilton Rodrigues, a friend of one of the victims, was waiting with family members for the bodies to arrive at the forensic institute.
My friend “came to the Capitolio area to celebrate his birthday, he would have turned 25 this Sunday, but was killed a day earlier,” the grieving man told AFP.
Officials suggested the collapse could have been related to recent heavy rains that caused flooding and forced almost 17,000 people out of their homes.
Tiago Antonelli, who heads the Applied Geology Division of the Brazilian Geological Service, said the cliff is subject to centuries of erosion and susceptible to rain, heat and cold.
“It’s normal to happen in many canyons, even with rocks of that size. But nowadays, with the intensification of tourism, people are starting to get closer to these places and to register these phenomena with their cell phones,” Antonelli said.
Furnas Lake, which was created in 1958 as part of a hydroelectric plant, is a popular tourist area, and Capitolio can draw 5,000 visitors on a normal weekend and up to 30,000 on holidays, USA Today reported.
With Post wires