Two dead, dozens missing as landslide hits Brazil highway

Dozens of people are missing after a landslide swept away some 20 vehicles on a highway in Brazil. PHOTO: AFP

RIO DE JANEIRO - At least two people were killed and dozens more are missing after a landslide ravaged a section of highway in southern Brazil, sweeping about 20 cars and trucks along with it, the authorities said on Wednesday.

The torrent of mud came rushing down a steep hillside on Monday after days of heavy rain in the state of Parana, hitting highway BR-367, officials said.

“It’s hard to know the exact number of victims. A vehicle could have one to five people inside. We’re working with an estimate of 30 to 50 people missing,” local emergency response chief Manoel Vasco told a news conference.

Aerial images released by emergency services showed a massive splotch of brown mud that swept away everything in its path – including a large chunk of highway and vehicles on it.

Rescue workers said the bad weather and remote location are complicating the search effort.

They are using drones with heat-detecting cameras in hopes of finding survivors.

Two bodies have been found so far, and six survivors have been located, including the mayor of the coastal town of Guaratuba, the nearest city.

“It was horrible. The mountain just fell on top of us. It swept away every last car. We’re alive only by the grace of God,” the mayor, Mr Roberto Justus, said in a video posted on social media.

Brazil is frequently hit by deadly landslides.

In February, more than 200 people were killed in a series of landslides in the picturesque south-eastern tourist town of Petropolis. AFP

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