Nine fire fighters die in Brazil cave collapse after landslide
Nine fire fighters died in a cave near Brazil’s Altinopolis city after the roof collapsed while they were training inside on Sunday, 31 October 2021, Brazilian authorities said. The accident occurred as group of 28 fire fighters from the São Paulo Fire Department were carrying out a training session Gruta Duas Bocas in the Altinópolis region of São Paulo on Sunday when the tragedy occurred, the São Paulo Fire Department said. "There were nine dead and seven fire fighters were rescued. There are no more victims at the site," it stated. The fire fighters were training in carrying out the rescue of an injured person from within a cave system, when a landslide brought down part of the cave roof onto a number of the team. Colleagues of the trapped fire fighters immediately began to try and gain access to them and carry out a rescue.
Additional teams of fire fighters and specialist cave rescue teams were requested to attend the scene to assist in the rescue efforts. Police and emergency health teams had joined fire fighters earlier Sunday in a desperate effort to free those still trapped but the work was hampered by heavy rains.
Access to the remote site was difficult and threats of new collapses complicated the rescue attempts.
Rescue teams had to work in extremely hazardous conditions to try and locate the missing fire fighters. This involved having to shore up parts of the cave roof to prevent any further collapses. Tragically, despite the best efforts of all the rescuers, once the nine trapped fire fighters were located, it was obvious that nothing could be done to save them.
The São Paulo Government deployed two helicopters and a group of rescue specialists to “reinforce the relief work”.
A total of seven fire fighters were rescued and transported to hospitals in the area suffering from non-life threatening injuries.
Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria had said on Twitter he would provide "all the support and resources necessary for the rescue of the victims."
Cristina Trifoni, mother of one of the instructors participating in the training event, explained that the group had planned to spend the night inside the cave. "What happened is that the entrance to the place they were in collapsed. I'm desperate," she said, standing next to relatives of other fire fighters who anxiously awaited word on the rescue effort.
Altinopolis is known for its caves, a major regional tourist attraction.
Sources: ão Paulo Fire Department, Reuters