Geologist Laments Rio Will Soon Be Dry and Forget 52 Died from Flood

Mudslides in Rio The rain can’t get all the blame for tragedies in places like Angra dos Reis, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where 52 people died last week, says José Oswaldo Araújo, a professor of geosciences at the University of Brasília (UnB).

There are other reasons for mudslides that bury people and buildings, he says. Among them: a lack of urban planning and no land use controls.

“Human intervention is the biggest factor, it upsets the balance in nature,” he says.

On Ilha Grande, according to Araújo, human occupation and deforestation left the soil unprotected making it easier for rainwater to infiltrate into the ground. But the soil can only absorb a limited amount of water. When the soil is saturated it will slip off the bedrock and roar down a mountain. It will turn into a river of mud.

Araújo complains that technical knowledge about risks of landslides in hillside construction is available but rarely used. He declared that after the tragedies of the last few weeks there is clearly a need for more rigid control, oversight and inspection.

Araújo concluded by saying: “You do not have to be a prophet to see that after the rainy season the dry season will come and then nobody will talk about this problem any more – until January 2011, when new accidents happen.”

More Rain

A cold front has moved through Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil’s southernmost state) and will move northward over the next few days. Result: more rain in southern Brazil.

Heavy rain is forecast in the coastal areas of the states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro where they caused so many problems last week. The rain is expected to continue through Friday.

Agudo’s Bridge

The Rio Grande do Sul state highway department is already trying to discover why part of the bridge at Agudo over the Jacuí River collapsed on Jan 5.

The bridge connects the municipalities of Agudo and Restinga and is a little over 300 meters long. A section of the bridge of around 100 meters just fell into the river.

At the moment the bridge collapsed some 20 to 30 people were standing on it looking at the sight of the flooded river and raging waters. At this time at least five people are still missing among them the vice mayor of Agudo, Hilberto Boeck.

The search for victims has been made difficult by more rain. Helicopters have been unable to fly and the Civil Defense says work on the ground has also been hampered.

The bridge in Agudo over the Jacuí River is 300 meters long and was built in 1963.



  • Show Comments (4)

  • Nicholas usa_male

    Nice talk everybody, but rather than complaining here, what I understand, why not joining the Brazilian local government and fix the problems. Right?

  • Natalya Barbosa

    Oh, and . . .
    When you find them, see if you can’t maybe get them to work on getting the roads fixed up a little safer, and maybe they could also do something about all the kids that have to go to work to support their families instead of studying, and the robberies, oh and maybe the drug problem too, huh? I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. But hey, we’re hosting the olympics in 2016, who cares about all that unimportant stuff?

  • Natalya Barbosa

    And just where . . .
    Do you think you’re going to find these “caring” politicians? 😉

  • dusty

    Urban Planning? pffft
    This guy just killed any chance of gaining political office if he ever desires it. 😛

    I mean urban planning? What the hell is he thinking? That costs money! If places like Rio or SP used urban planning or flood control measures and actually let the money get to where it was intended. All those politicians and contractors wouldn’t be able to afford the finer things in life. Oh the horror!

    Truth be told, urban planning is something that should be practiced. There is absolutely no reason why 80 people should be killed in mudslides. Especially not in a country that is on the cusp of becoming a global player both in scale of economy and politics. The rainy season comes every year and every year scores of people are killed. Yet the politicians never take any kind of direct action to prevent these needless tragedies from occurring.

    It is a shame, how many innocent people have to die before progress is made? Urban planning is not rocket science. In many cases, simple and inexpensive measures can be taken to mitigate these horrific events. All it takes is a couple of politicians who care more about the people than lining their own pockets.

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