A storm that hit 17 cities in Mato Grosso do Sul on Friday resulted in the death of at least six people traveling on a hotel boat on the Paraguay River, in the city of Corumbá, on the border with Bolivia. The gusts of wind exceeded 90 kilometers per hour. The vessel capsized in a few seconds and the 21 occupants submerged, according to reports collected by the Fire and Civil Police. Two bodies were found Friday afternoon and another four this Saturday morning. One person is still missing. Searches took place until 7:30 pm on Saturday and are expected to resume on Sunday morning. Where the vessel sank, the depth is approximately four meters.
With the exception of the nine crew members, the other 12 occupants were tourists from São José do Rio Preto (SP), Sumaré (SP) and Rio Verde (GO). According to reports by the survivors to the Civil Police, the group was having a barbecue on the upper part of the Carcará boat, when a gale overturned the vessel. “It shook the boat. Two seconds later, it became the same movie”, said physician Geovanne Furtado Souza to the portal G1. Four of the six victims identified so far were Souza’s relatives, her father, an uncle, a nephew and a brother-in-law.
Tourists used to travel to the Pantanal to fish, but because of the covid-19 pandemic, they had not made this trip for nearly two years. The Paraguay River is one of the main fishing tourism spots in Brazil. The Governor of Goiás, Ronaldo Caiado (DEM), issued a note of regret for the dead, as five of the six identified so far were from Goiás.
On social networks, residents of Corumbá posted a series of videos showing the red cloud that covered the city followed by the gale. In Campo Grande, in the capital of Mato Grosso do Sul, there were also several losses due to the storm. The Civil Defense reported that the wind gusts reached 102 kilometers per hour. At least 4,000 properties were left without electricity, the water supply was compromised, 154 trees fell through the city streets, telephone and cable TV companies went down, according to reports in local newspapers.
As per the news site Campo Grande News, an aircraft that traveled from Campo Grande to Campinas (SP) was hit by a sandstorm, known as a haboob. Psychologist Cris Duarte, who was on the flight, reported that two minutes after takeoff, the sandstorm began. “It was total despair, the passengers began to feel sick, to vomit. It was possible to feel the nervousness of the commissioners themselves, as they also could not get up from their seats due to the turbulence”, he told the newspaper. According to the passenger, the aircraft took about 10 minutes to cross the sandstorm, while the captain maneuvered the plane in search of the best route. She recorded a video that was played by the journal.
Sand storms started to draw attention in Brazil in recent weeks, after they hit cities in the interior of São Paulo, Goiás, Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul. According to the Climatempo weather service, the trend is that the frequency the phenomenon will increase in the coming years. The reason is the long periods of drought in the Southeast and Midwest, which end up being related to deforestation.
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