BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) – The death toll from a landmine crash on Brazilian sailors has risen to 10, police said on Sunday. Officials worked to identify the dead and swimmers searched the lake for possible findings.
Police chief Marcos Pimenta said people may have been missing following the crash on Saturday in Minas Gerais state. At least 32 people were injured, though most were discharged from hospitals on Saturday evening.
The accident took place between the towns of Sao Jose da Barra and Capitolio, from which the boats had left. Video footage shows a junction of small boats moving slowly along a tall rock at Lake Furnas when a crack appeared in the rock and a large piece of rock fell on several ships.
The bodies were taken to the city of Passos, where prosecutors worked to identify them. The task was difficult due to the “excessive force” of the rock for sailors, said local police chief Marcos Pimenta. He also said that one of the victims was identified as 68-year-old Júlio Borges Antunes.
Furnas Lake, built in 1958 to establish a hydroelectric power plant, is a popular tourist attraction in the area about 420 kilometers (260 miles) north of Sao Paulo.
Officials say the flood wall was probably caused by heavy rains that caused flooding in the state and forced about 17,000 people to evacuate their homes.
The head of the Applied Geology Division of the Brazilian Geological Service, Tiago Antonelli, said the rock wall was eroded for hundreds of years and was prone to rain, heat, and cold.
“It’s very common in many valleys, even if there are rocks of a certain size. “Nowadays, due to the growth of tourism, people are approaching the site and registering the event with their mobile phones,” said Antonelli.
Joana Fontez, a professor of geology at the Federal University of Goiás, said governments needed to improve the area to avoid accidents, especially during the rainy season. The boats were to be stored at a distance of 0.6 miles from the falls at which the accident occurred, he said.
Video producer Marcos Limonti and photographer Igor do Vale contributed the story from Capitolio, Brazil.