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Posts Tagged ‘Rio de Janeiro’

Air France wreckage could provide answers to mysterious crash

Posted by Admin on April 5, 2011

By Sara Miller Llana – Mon Apr 4, 2:46 pm ET

Mexico City – Nearly two years after an Air France plane plunged into the Atlantic off the coast of Brazil, killing everyone aboard, authorities say they may have found the most important discoveries yet.

The new findings have given fresh hope to victims’ families – and to the aviation industry overall – that the cause of the crash might yet be determined and thus allow authorities to take steps to prevent future incidents. The Airbus 320-303 was en route to Paris from Rio De Janeiro on a night flight in June 2009 when it crashed, killing all 228 passengers and crew members.

“From the human aspect, there is obviously a desire for closure,” says Robert Mann, president of R.W. Mann & Company, an aviation consultancy in Port Washington, N.Y. “And in this case, as in numerous others, there is a really pressing need to understand what happened.”

France’s investigating authority said today on local French radio that the engine and parts of the fuselage have been located, while the Environment Ministry said that bodies have also been found. Until now, despite using the high-tech equipment and unmanned submarines, significant wreckage had remained elusive in a deep sea area of steep mountain terrain.

“We have more than just traces, we have bodies… Identification is possible,” Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet told French radio Monday, according to Reuters.

Finding the engine could help investigators understand why the plane crashed, says Mr. Mann, and also lead authorities closer to digging up the “black box” data recorders. So far authorities have determined, from other wreckage found, that the plane hit the water intact, not breaking first in air.

“It seems that we have discovered the wreckage site. Up until now we had only found a few elements of debris floating on the surface,” Jean-Paul Troadec, head of the French Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses (BEA), said on French radio, according to CNN.

Two years of search and simulation have not led to a definitive cause of the crash of the plane, which passed through a thunderstorm off the Atlantic coast just a few hours after taking off. The newest findings came during a search led by the Massachusetts-based Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, which has deployed three autonomous underwater vehicles for the operation.

Such lengthy investigations are not uncommon. In some cases terrain is so vast and complicated that it takes years to locate wreckage and keys to crashes. In the current case, authorities have spent tens of millions of dollars to search depths of 10,000 feet, in an area of about 3,900 square miles, several hundred miles off Brazil’s northeastern coast.

“There is a desire to understand why things fail as a means of trying to preclude similar circumstances,” says Mann. “It is a preventive-oriented quest… and people go to very great lengths to prevent another loss of life like this.”

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Brazilian president visits mudslide areas as death toll continues to rise

Posted by Admin on January 17, 2011

http://www.headlinenewsbureau.com/siterun_data/news/world/doc0b6577e39409c451a726cfc8d3477315.html

Rescuers have yet to reach some of the worst-hit areas • Rousseff says illegal occupation of steep hillsides cost lives

More than 500 people are known to have died in Brazil after torrential rains sent avalanches of mud and debris smashing on to towns in a mountainous area outside Rio de Janeiro.

The official death toll has reached 527 in what is being described as one of the country’s worst natural disasters, and rescuers have yet to reach some of the worst-hit areas – including one neighbourhood where 150 houses were reportedly swept away. The toll seems certain to rise considerably.

Nearly all of those killed were buried alive when avalanches of mud and debris fell on to their homes in the Serrana region in the early hours of Wednesday. At least 13,000 people have been left homeless.

It is an immediate crisis for Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, who took over from Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva a fortnight ago. After a brief visit to the affected region yesterday, Rousseff called the disaster an act of God, but said the tragedy could not be blamed on nature alone.

“We saw areas in which mountains untouched by men dissolved. But we also saw areas in which illegal occupation caused damage to the health and lives of people,” she said.

Many of the destroyed homes had been built precariously on steep hillsides, and Rousseff said housing in areas of risk was the rule rather than the exception in Brazil. “When there aren’t housing policies, where are people who earn no more than twice the minimum wage going to live?” she said.

Teresópolis, a bucolic tourist town 60 miles north of Rio, was one of the hardest-hit areas: by last night at least 200 deaths had been confirmed. Local authorities were preparing to erect floodlights in the cemetery in order to hold round-the-clock burials. The town’s streets filled with pick-up trucks packed with fleeing residents, carrying mattresses and pets.

In Campo Grande, a shanty town on the outskirts of Teresópolis that was almost completely enveloped by falling rubble and mud, residents said as many as 300 bodies had been buried after a dam burst, triggering a landslide that consumed nearly everything in its path, tossing pick-up trucks into sitting rooms and a delivery truck into a tree.

“It’s ugly, really ugly,” said Vicente Luiz Florente, a 50-year-old builder who had travelled to the area in search of his brother. “This was a community – now all you can see is rocks.”

Further up the road, rescue workers unearthed another five bodies, including a young child whose limp corpse was wrapped in a black bin liner and dispatched to the local morgue in a mud-covered ambulance.

“We can’t be certain about reducing the impact of the rains, but we cannot allow people to die – this is our mission,” Rousseff said.

In Nova Friburgo, a neighbouring town of Teresópolis, at least 214 bodies have been recovered.

“This family no longer exists,” read the headline of a Rio tabloid, alongside the photo of a prominent fashion designer and former Newsweek employee who was buried alongside eight relatives.

“It’s a terrible scene,” said a local judge, Jos� Ricardo Ferreira de Aguiar, as he pulled back a black tarpaulin and stepped into Teresópolis’s improvised mortuary – the garage of the town’s police station.

On the concrete floor before him lay 100 bodies, among them new-born babies, toddlers, elderly women and teenagers. Caked in brown mud and draped with pieces of soggy cardboard, the bodies were piled in a confusion of arms and legs.

Relatives were led into the morgue in groups of four to identify bodies splayed out under pieces of cardboard, sheets and muddy duvets. Those that had already been identified had tatty paper ID tags tied on to their toes.

“There’s no chance of even making this human,” Aguiar said. “We’ve just never seen anything like it here.”

Mario Sergio Macario, 22, a student who has been given the job of guarding the morgue’s entrance, said several colleagues from his tourism course were missing. “The station is chaos. It’s a public calamity. I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said.

Speaking after a helicopter flight over Teresópolis, Rio’s environment secretary, Carlos Minc, described the mudslides as the worst catastrophe in the region’s history.

“I believe the death toll is much higher than has been so far announced,” he said. “Many people died in their sleep. The mountainsides are coming down. The areas are very unstable.”

Angela Marina de Carvalho Silva, who believes she may have lost 15 relatives to the flood, including five nieces and nephews, said: “There are so many disappeared and so many that will probably never be found. There was nothing we could do. It was hell.”

Carvalho Silva took refuge in a neighbour’s house on high ground with her husband and daughter, and watched the torrential rain carry away cars, tree branches and animals and tear apart the homes of friends and family.

“It’s over. There’s nothing. The water came down and swept everything away,” said her husband, Sidney Silva.

Brazil Natural disasters and extreme weather Tom Phillips Peter Walker Guardian News & Media Limited 2011

 

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