At least seven people are disappeared and feared dead following a landslide this afternoon at the São Paulo subway's Yellow Line in Nações Unidas avenue, on the city's west side. A truck and a microbus were swallowed by the crater of about 30 meters (100 feet).
Paulo Roberto dos Santos, vice president of Transcooper, the company that owns the missing microbus, says that they were trying to locate the vehicle by satellite, cell phone and radio, but they haven't been able to contact the bus driver.
While the microbus can carry 26 people, it's believed that the vehicle wasn't transporting more than four to six passengers plus the driver and the fare collector when the accident occurred. The microbus, fortunately, had just left the Pinheiros terminal on its way to Casa Verde in São Paulo's north side and was still quite empty
Trucks working in the subway and cars parked nearby also fell in the hole. It's feared that Metro workers have been buried by the landslide too. A giant crane working in the area seemed also on the verge of falling inside the trap.Â
A witness said that the landslide was preceded by an explosion. The work for the construction of a tunnel and an a Metro station in the area use explosives that are detonated several times a day. It's not clear, however, if one of these explosions caused the disaster.
A Metro worker, who was close to where the accident occurred, however, said that there was no explosion before the landslide. According to him, the concrete structure simply gave way. "Everything suddenly crumbled," he told reporters. "At the time, all I could think of was God, my family and nothing else."
Fearing that houses in the neighborhood might also collapse authorities have evacuated residents in a one-kilometer radius around the crater. The accident hasn't in any way affected the circulation of the metro trains, which continue to operate normally.Â
At a time, 12 firemen teams were in the location. They asked helicopters from radio and TV stations to leave the area. They needed the less noise possible in order to try to listen to any help request.
According to José Luiz Portela, secretary of Metropolitan Transports, the landslide happened when the soil gave way. Portela informed that the process of caving in is still going on and engineering work in the area won't start before the ground settles down.