By Henry Montalto, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Breaking News from Vidigal in the South Zone of Rio de Janeiro. A massive rock that had been broken loose by the recent rains and mudslides could collapse at any minute.
Last Tuesday, May 28, an appellate court judge ordered the closure of Av. Niemeyer, the only road access to the Vidigal community. Rio’s Mayor, Marcelo Crivella, had criticized the shutdown, saying the suit filed by the State Public Prosecutor was based on “mere conjecture”.
The stone in the top right of the video was damaged by a mudslide in February and weakened further after the April rains.
Many houses are located beneath the rock, and nearby residents were forced to leave their homes.
The Rio City Geological Survey team (Rio-Geo) went on the scene with climbing gear, to see if they could secure the stone. So far, however, it still in a dangerously precarious position.
UPDATE: 9 AM, May 30th: Small parts of the rock have fallen and missed the houses below. Rio-Geo’s team was not successful in reinforcing the loose rock yesterday.
Heavy rain is expected on Sunday and Monday, which can potentially worsen the situation as the ground gets more saturated. Right now, all there is to do is wait for the inevitable.
UPDATE: 9 AM, May 31st: Medium size rocks weighing hundreds of pounds have broken lose since yesterday. No new stones have fallen. However, Rio de Janeiro is expecting moderate rains from Sunday into Wednesday.
Mario Moscatelli, an environmentalist who does regular aerial surveys and flyovers in Vidigal, Muzema and Rio das Pedras, said these areas are only a few rainy days from a disaster. Moscatelli went on to say that a little rain can re-trigger a mudslide in these areas at any moment.
City Hall states it is continuously monitoring the situation on Av. Niemeyer. The judge has ordered an independent expert report to be approved before the strategic road can be re-opened.