9 Brazilian Firefighters Die After Cave Collapses During Training Exercise

Nine Brazilian firefighters lost their lives on Sunday after a cave in Sao Paulo collapsed during a training exercise.

The incident happened as the roof of the cave at the Gruta Duas Bocas trail near Altinópolis collapsed while 26 firefighters were training. According to the Sao Paulo fire department, "There were nine dead and one person rescued. No more victims at the site."

"The roof of the cave collapsed", trapping part of the group, it said on Twitter.

As per an earlier report, 15 firefighters were still buried, and that three of the victims who were rescued suffered fractures and hypothermia. Five people were taken to a local hospital and discharged, according to AFP.

Rain Made the Rescue Work Difficult

An emergency response was soon launched on Sunday. Police and emergency health teams were deployed along with firefighters to rescue those who were trapped. However, the work was hampered by heavy rains.

Firefighters faced complications as access to the remote site was not easy. Also, there were threats of new collapses.

Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria said on Twitter he would provide "all the support and resources necessary for the rescue of the victims."

What Led to the Tragic Training Accident?

Altinópolis is a Brazilian municipality in the state of Sao Paulo. The city is known for its sights, like the Praça das Esculturas, and its wide variety of caves and waterfalls. There are eight caves regularly visited by tourist, highlighted by the Itambé Cave with a façade of 28 meters and some 350 meters of galleries.

9 Brazilian firefighters were killed in cave collapse while training
9 Brazilian firefighters were killed in cave collapse while training AFP

According to a report, the training course was being conducted by the Real Life school. Altinopolis mayor José Roberto Ferracin Marques said no one in the local municipality had been informed. The exact cause of the accident is still not clear as the municipality says it was left in the dark.

Cristina Trifoni, mother of one of the instructors participating in the training, informed that the group had planned to spend the night inside the cave. She was Speaking to GloboNews.

She continued, "What happened is that the entrance to the place they were in collapsed. I'm desperate." Family members of other firefighters anxiously awaited word on the rescue effort.

'That Kind of Training Should Not be Done'

According to Military Police Lieutenant Colonel Rodrigo Quintino, the civil defense coordinator for the region, "The group was camping inside the cave. Due to a series of factors, the cave ceiling collapsed on some of these people."

"That kind of training should not be done. It is a level of training that requires a high degree of professionalism. Those who have the competence to do this kind of action are the military teams," he told Folha de Sao Paolo.