World Bulletin/News Desk
A ruptured water main in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, has killed a young girl and injured thirteen others, as well as destroying at least 20 houses and leaving scores homeless.
Three-year-old Isabela Severo dos Santos was killed when a major water main burst and ripped through in her home in Campo Grande, a suburb in the west of the city early on Tuesday morning. The local fire authorities have confirmed the death.
Thirteen people were also injured, including two other children and at least twenty houses destroyed when the jet of water exploded out of the ground near the Estrada do Mendanha road at around 5 a.m. local time (08:00 GMT).
The stream of water reached 20 metres (65ft) into the air and aerial footage showed cars being swept away in the flood which followed. Rescue teams had to use rubber dinghies to reach some people. Power has been switched off to the area as a preventative measure.
According to the local authorities, the incident has left 72 people homeless and a further 70 have been forced to relocate; at least twenty houses have been destroyed and 200 properties have been affected in all.
"I woke up to a very loud noise on my roof. Then the walls began to cave in. We were on the second floor and the force of the water carried us to the other side of the street. We ended up in front of our neighbour’s house," Agilson da Silva Serpa, a mechanic whose house was destroyed in the incident, told Brazilian broadcaster Globo News.
A local school is providing emergency shelter for the 72 people left homeless by the incident, an explanation for which has yet to be provided by local authorities.
Residents blame lack of investment in poorer communities
Rio state governor Sérgio Cabral, who has visited the affected site along with Rio mayor Eduardo Paes, said the families involved had been through "moments of terror" and promised "total solidarity and support to the families" and that homeless families would be accommodated in local hotels and that electrical appliances would be replaced.
Both Cedae, the local water company, and the governor also promised a full investigation into what caused the pipe to rupture. The company insisted the incident was a one-off, rather than a recurring problem.
Cedae also said they had redistributed water to other water mains so that shortages would be avoided, and have asked local residents to conserve supplied while repairs are made.
Mr. Cabral, who has been the focus of a number of recent protests in Rio, was reportedly booed by some residents who complained of a lack of public investment in poorer areas of the city.
During the recent visit by the Pope Francis for World Youth Day, a number of protests called for the governor to be sacked for spending public money on hosting a number of major events, including next year’s FIFA World Cup and the Olympics in 2016, instead of investing more in the substandard public health and education systems and infrastructure.Last Mod: 31 Temmuz 2013, 10:05