Another Sinkhole Swallows Amazonian Port
2010-11-05 0:00


Dramatic video footage has emerged showing the moment a sinkhole / landslide ripped through the Amazonian port of Chibatão, Manaus, Brazil.

The security camera footage shows the torrential flows of mud that swept through the riverside container terminal in the late morning of Sunday 17 October as maintenance work was being carried out.

Two port workers – 31-year-old Pedro Paulo, and 63-year-old Sílvio Barbosa Silva – were confirmed as missing. However, Carlos Gonzaga, president of Sindicargas, the local stevedores union, said he believed at least 10 people could had been swept to their deaths.

A 300-metre crack occurred along the length of the privately owned river terminal as large areas of the terminal patio gave way and crumbled into the river during the disaster, with containers, chassis and port equipment also swept away.

José Ferreira de Oliveira, owner of the port, told local journalists that maintenance work was being carried out to create an embankment when the landslide occurred. It is understood that the work was intended to facilitate access to a floating pontoon, that served as a berth at the facility, after river levels dropped.

The river is at its lowest level since records began in 1902, following the Amazon’s worst drought in decades. According to the government’s geological service, the Rio Negro was measured at a depth of 13.63 metres, down from a high of nearly 30 metres last year.

Derricks and rafts have been used to recover containers and cargo handling equipment as the cleanup operation progresses and the search for bodies continues.

The area of the port affected measures 400 by 200 metres, totalling around 80,000 sq metres. Further large cracks are understood to have occurred in an area of pavement adjacent to the first landslide.

The port of the Chibatão is responsible for about 40% of cargo movements to and from the industrial centre around the city of Manaus, the Amazonian state capital.


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