A huge landslide on a highway in the Brazilian state of Paraná, in the south of the country, left at least 30 missing, local authorities confirmed Wednesday.
The landslide took place on Monday, but since then the rescue tasks have been carried out with great difficulty due to the heavy rain that falls in the area.
In the first hours, six people were rescued alive, and at the moment there are two fatalities.
One of them has been identified: a 60-year-old man from the neighboring state of Santa Catarina.
The earth buried at least 15 cars and six trucks that were traveling on the BR-376 highway, in a wooded mountain range near the municipality of Guaratuba.
The number of vehicles is what firefighters use to calculate the number of casualties.
“We cannot specify the exact number because the vehicle goes from one to five people.
That is why we are working with the hypothesis of having between 30 and 50 (victims)”, the commander of the Paraná fire department, Manoel Vasco de Figueiredo Junior, stated at a press conference this Wednesday.
One of the survivors was the mayor of Guaratuba himself, Roberto Justus.
He and his driver were in one of the affected vehicles, which was tipped over by the landslide.
They managed to get out by breaking the windows.
“It was a horrible thing.
The mountain collapsed, sending us over other cars... We are only alive by a miracle of God (...) there was a lot of earth, a lot of stone that fell on top of the cars, the mud came under the car, lifted it up and us he commanded over the others who were standing still ”, he explained in a video recorded on his social networks still in a state of shock.
In the searches, a drone and a thermal camera are being used to identify hot spots, with the aim of finding survivors, although no signs of heat have been found at the moment.
The entire rescue operation is proving very difficult due to the constant rain that has been falling since Monday and due to the instability of the terrain.
The working conditions are extremely complex and also endanger those who search for the disappeared.
“That earth has a very great weight on the track, and it is a track that is on a suspended region, in fact, there is a risk of it falling.
It is a very complex scenario”, said the coordinator of the Civil Defense of Paraná, Colonel Fernando Shuning.
While trying to rescue the victims, investigations into the causes of the landslide and the exchange of accusations begin.
The highway police stated that the highway concession company, Arteris Litoral Sul, should have closed the entire highway to traffic after the first landslide, which was less serious and occurred four hours before the main landslide.
In a statement, the company reported that the area where the accident occurred is monitored periodically and that "it did not represent a risk."
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