Rescuers race to reach 9 firefighters in Brazil cave

Brasília (AFP) – First responders on Sunday were racing to rescue nine Brazilian firefighters who remained trapped in a cave after its roof collapsed while they were training inside, authorities said.


The accident occurred as a group of 26 firefighters were on a training exercise in a cave near the city of Altinopolis, the Sao Paulo fire department said on Twitter.

"The roof of the cave collapsed," trapping part of the group, it said.

According to a statement from the Altinopolis mayor's office, "currently nine victims remain underground."

A previous report said 15 were still buried, and that three of the victims who were rescued suffered fractures and hypothermia.

Five people in total were taken to a local hospital and discharged, according to the mayor's office.

Police and emergency health teams have joined firefighters in a desperate effort to free those still trapped, but the work has been hampered by heavy rains.

Access to the remote site is difficult and threats of new collapses have complicated the rescue.

Speaking to GloboNews, Cristina Trifoni, mother of one of the instructors participating in the training, explained that the group had planned to spend the night inside the cave.

"What happened is that the entrance to the place they were in collapsed. I'm desperate," she said next to relatives of other firefighters who anxiously awaited word on the rescue effort.

Altinopolis is known for its caves, a major regional tourist attraction.