January 19th, 2011
11:43 AM ET

Rescue of man buried alive for 16 hours in Brazil mudslide captured on film

On a street cluttered with debris from a mudslide rescue workers heard a noise.

The flooding and mudslides that resulted from a month's worth of rain in one day have turned the once-picturesque tourist town of Teresopolis, Brazil, about two hours north of Rio de Janeiro, into a wasteland. Bodies and belongings remain strewn among fallen boulders as relatives search for loved ones.

In one mound of rubble, a faint voice could be heard. After so many stories of sadness and loss, that voice provided more than enough hope for rescuers to begin digging quickly.

As workers began what would be a three-hour process of pulling apart mud-covered rocks and debris, journalist Luciano Zimbrano, armed with a handheld camera, began filming, according to the British newspaper The Telegraph.

His dramatic video shows a crowd forming as workers remove layer by layer of debris, first revealing an arm. Then the back of a head appears.

Rescuers and Zimbrano soon learned that a man was trapped facedown 13 feet below the mud.

Slowly rescuers reached the man, and after putting a neck brace on him, they were able to pull him from the rubble, where he had been for 16 hours. He was put onto a stretcher as onlookers cheered.

It was only then, according to the Telegraph, that Zimbrano realized he knew the man he was filming - Marcelo Fonseca.

After the rescue, from his hospital bed, Fonseca told the Telegraph of the moment right before he became trapped.

"When I opened the window I only heard that loud thud and I only had time to run," he told the Telegraph. "When I ran and reached the front door it was such a powerful thing, that I only saw some pieces of the roof flying and some pieces of wood." He became completely trapped and had trouble breathing.

"My chest was being crushed by a stone and I was trapped; my two feet were trapped," he told the newspaper.

Rescuers say because he was face down, there may have been an air pocket under him, enabling him to breathe throughout the ordeal.

The 42-year-old man, according to the newspaper, is in the intensive-care unit but is expected to make a full recovery.

The story has captivated those who have seen the video - perhaps because of the dramatic nature of it - but also because of the grim toll of the flooding and mudslides in Brazil.

Maj. Carlos Falconi told CNN that rescuers continue to find survivors but mostly those who are trapped in their houses. The government said the death toll surpassed 700 Tuesday. Falconi said he expects the number of deaths will likely reach 1,000 when search-and-rescue operations are completed.

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Filed under: Brazil • Weather
soundoff (178 Responses)
  1. marlin

    May God receive his glory. This man has been given another good look at the desire of God to give him a opportunity to spread more of the gospel of JESUS CHRIST

    January 19, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      Lol! Yeah, God let a disaster occur that killed 1,000 people but he reached his hand in to stop one from dying. If that's how God works, you are going to turn me into a non believer. We need to stop confusing God with chance, or no one is going to take us seriously.

      January 19, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • GodTookNoPart

      @Kevin: I agree with you, this was no interjection of god's. I disagree however in the aspect that you think a god sat back and let it happen. Mainly because I don't believe in god 🙂

      January 19, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shaunathan

      @Kevin: Please don't feed the trolls, even the delusional, misguided, X-tian Fundy psychos.

      January 19, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adrian

      Your a bunch of nut jobs...

      January 19, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phil

      GODTOOKNOPART – I feel sorry for you and all those out there who don't believe in God. Just look around and see all that he created. God gave us all free will to do "Good" or "Bad" but also provided his book and commandments for us. If you just give him a chance and follow his word you will find peace and the true meaning for why we are here. Sin, Disasters, murders, etc have taken place since Adam and Eve and throughout the Bible but God's Promise to all believers is a wonderful place for all one day. He gives all humans a choice and those who get second and third chances need to thank God and get their life in order. I just pray for all non-believers out there that they turn to him before it's to late. It's better to be in his midst now ...than to scream out for mercy later! Just give him a chance and follow the word and you'll live a greater more satisfying life that has purpose. God bless all of you and be with all those in harms way and in need.

      January 19, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • adam

      lol or a man just happened to have a close call and a new appritiation for life. dont think god or jesus had much to do with anything here, lmao

      January 19, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dhaymon

      to all the religious people that put down non believers and actualy think god created everything.....FLOCK OF DODOS.... look it up and watch it, might help u guys out alittle

      January 19, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • sf

      That may be true, but, why did God save him and not save that girl that was shot? Or any of the others that are killed regularly? I think that God is indifferent to human suffering.

      January 19, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roy

      OR, maybe god tried to knock him off but it didn't work. Most people can go for long periods without being buried alive...sounds like a failed hit to me. Obviously god should stick to Locusts and things he knows that work.

      January 19, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kool Moe Dee


      January 19, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |

      If you believe in GOD then your body isn't found in the mud. If you believe in GOD your house ain't flooded. If you believe in GOD your city doesn't flood. Simple as that stupid rationalists!

      January 19, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Philos0pher

      Lol, you're so ignorant and brainwashed

      January 19, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |

      Better then being spirituality r_ped by a opportunistic atheistic philosopher who might as while won at American Idol with a different profession. THAT is the quality of today's philosophers. Bow down to the LORD OF HOSTS Who is to return soon.

      January 19, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Philos0pher

      Whatever lets you sleep at night as you fear the impending termination of your individuality. You think you have the answer to Life and somehow you will live forever, but I know that you're just like everyone else.

      "Trust in those who seek the truth, doubt those who say they've found it"

      But whatever, minds like yours don't change and adjust with new information so just be a good person to the people around you. Cheers.

      January 19, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name*sunnierdays

      No Kevin....its MANS fault....let's get it correct. Ellis you still. Think adam gave eve an apple.

      Man will take out humankind because of their ignorance.
      POWER is what mankind strives for and they will die at the hand of POWER.
      World disaters have happend since beginning of time. They continue,some that could of been stop by mankind.

      But for all those of all faiths.....pull together and help with the little they have we all become the power of one.

      I can tell you it wouldn't be in this lifetime.

      Ellis.....listen buddie your days are numbered. Even when I do exit.
      I hope its not painful.

      January 19, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |

      Philos0pher: Give me a break. You advertise yourself as the most individualistic person on earth, but when I read your post I get the impression of a stuck sheep lost in life. Get a some control over yourself and especially your thought processes before you let yourself being r_ped again by another opportunist atheistic philosopher. We will all meet death, people people like you are the most unfortunate ones. For you there is nothing out there, because you deny it now.

      January 19, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Philos0pher

      Umm... so you're saying that believing something to be true makes it true? Interesting, so by that logic if I believe in reincarnation or Valhalla I will make them exist? Interesting logic.

      You seem to have deduced alot about me from such a limited amount of words. A bit too judgmental perhaps?
      As far as my influences. How in the world did you deduce that atheist philosophers are my inspiration? That's a pretty bold statement. I suppose you've made your mind up already as you have with religion and God. Like I said, people of your mentality fail to adjust their worldview as they learn new things, either because they don't learn new schools of thought or their minds are closed (mostly due to religious indoctrination).

      All that you've assumed about me is pretty much the opposite of me. You're going off of preconceived notions based on others you've interacted with. This isn't productive for civil and rational discussion.

      January 19, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |

      Philos0pher: Yes, I have failed to detect your PURITAN core, but so has everybody around you. Good luck in life playing your own savior,. I am sure those grey nature bound brains are immortal LOL

      January 19, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Philos0pher

      The only thing that exists, my friend, is God. There is nothing to fear about death. Though your individuality may perish, your true nature is that which always is. Maybe someday you will see this, nevertheless I assure you everything is fine, always was and always will be whether or not messed up things occur in the human world. I wish you happiness on your journey.

      January 19, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • guest

      Oh you unbelievers... There will be weeping, weeping, weeping............

      January 19, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • FirstResponder

      Have you ever noticed how EVERY SINGLE TOPIC that is open for comments on here turns into an argument about whether or not there is a "God"? When will people realize that NOBODY is going to be able to change anybody else's mind on the issue, and therefore all the comments are a complete WASTE OF TIME? And, more importantly, when will people realize that WHETHER OR NOT there is a "God" doesn't actually matter anyway! Think about it this way: If you assume there IS a God, what would change? If you assume there IS NOT a God, what would change? The answer in both cases: NOTHING. So... WHETHER OR NOT you believe in a Generic Omnipotent Diety (G.O.D.), please keep it to yourself!

      January 19, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • jmacc77

      Phil, your comments are sinful, full of pride they are... in presuming to know the mind of god.

      January 19, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • TC_in_CT

      There is one simple truth ... There are no atheists in a foxhole ... When all non believers are confronted with their impending doom ... they will look very hard within themselves ... and more then likely discover they actually did believe all along. I really don't give a rats @SS what you have to say today, as you are lying to your selves

      January 19, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Philos0pher

      jmacc77 and your comments are judgmental and limiting. You assume that there aren't ways to gain clarity and glimpses at truth about Life and the Universe because you've never attempted it. I choose to study the ways people think of subjects such as self, life, universe, mind, god etc because I love knowledge and I want to learn as much as I can during life. We have minds and reason for a purpose and I choose to know as much as I can, within limitations. You on the other hand have chosen to stop your inquiry and are satisfied with the "I win button, I already have the answer". Open your mind and drop your assumptions and you will see that which you are thirsty for.

      January 19, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Philos0pher

      Nature and God are somewhat one and the same. Religious mythology tells a simple story and limits self-realization.

      Nature! We are surrounded and embraced by her - powerless to leave
      her and powerless to enter her more deeply. Unasked and without
      warning she sweeps us away in the round of her dance and dances on
      until we fall exhausted from her arms.

      She brings forth ever new forms: what is there, never was; what was,
      never will return. All is new, and yet forever old.

      We live within her, and are strangers to her. She speaks perpetually
      with us, and does not betray her secret. We work on her constantly,
      and yet have no power over her.

      All her effort seems bent toward individuality, and she cares nothing
      for individuals. She builds always, destroys always, and her workshop
      is beyond our reach.

      She lives in countless children, and the mother - where is she?
      She is the sole artist, creating extreme contrast out of the simplest
      material, the greatest perfection seemingly without effort, the most
      definite clarity always veiled with a touch of softness. Each of her
      works has its own being, each of her phenomenon its separate idea,
      and yet all create a single whole.

      She plays out a drama: we know not whether she herself sees it,
      and yet she plays it for us, we who stand in the corner.

      There is everlasting life, growth, movement in her and yet she
      does not stir from her place. She transforms herself constantly and
      there is never a moment's pause in her. She has no name for respite,
      and she has set her curse upon inactivity. She is firm. Her tread is
      measured, her exceptions rare, her laws immutable.

      She thought and she thinks still, not as man, but as nature. She keeps
      to herself her own all-embracing thoughts which none may discover
      from her.

      All men are in her and she in all. With all she plays a friendly game,
      and is glad as our winnings grow. With many she plays a hidden game
      which is ended before they know it.

      Even what is most unnatural is nature.
      The one who does not see her everywhere sees her nowhere clearly.

      She loves herself, she adores herself eternally with countless eyes
      and hearts. She has scattered herself to enjoy herself. She brings forth
      ever new spectators, insatiable in her need to share herself.

      She delights in illusion. Whoever destroys this in himself and others
      she punishes as the sternest tyrant. Whoever follows her trustingly
      she takes to her heart like a child.

      Her children are without number. From none does she withhold all
      gifts, but upon her favorites she lavishes much and for them she
      sacrifices much. She has lent her protection to greatness.

      Her creatures are flung up out of nothingness with no hint of where
      they come from or where they are going - they are only to run;
      she knows the course.

      She has few mainsprings to drive her, but these never wind down;
      they are always at work, always varied.

      Her drama is ever new because she creates ever new spectators.
      Life is her most beautiful invention and death her scheme for having
      more life.

      She wraps man in shadow and forever spurs him to find the light.
      She makes him a creature dependent upon the earth, sluggish and heavy,
      and then again and again she shakes him awake.

      She gives us needs because she loves movement. A miracle, how little
      she uses to achieve all this movement. Every need is a favor.
      Soon satisfied, soon roused again. When she gives us another it is
      a source of new pleasure. But soon she comes into balance.

      At every moment she prepares for the longest race and at every moment
      she is done with it.

      She is vanity itself, but not our vanity. For us she has given herself
      paramount importance.

      She lets every child practice his arts on her, every fool judge her;
      she allows thousands to pass over her dully, without seeing her.
      In all this she takes joy and from it she draws her profit.

      We obey her laws even in resisting them; we work with her even in
      working against her.

      All she gives she makes a blessing, for she begins by making it a
      need. She delays so that we long for her; she hurries so that we
      never have our fill of her.

      She has neither language nor speech, but she makes tongues and
      hearts with which to feel and speak.

      Her crown is love. Only through love do we come to her.
      She opens chasms between all beings, and each seeks to devour
      the other. She has set all apart to draw all together. With a few
      draughts from the cup of love she makes good a life full of toil.

      She is all. She rewards herself and punishes herself, delights
      and torments herself. She is rough and gentle, charming and
      terrifying, impotent and all-powerful. All is eternally present
      in her. She knows nothing of past and future. The present is
      eternity for her. She is kind. I praise her with all her works.
      She is wise and still. We may force no explanation from her,
      wrest no gift from her, if she does not give it freely.
      She is full of tricks, but to a good end, and it is best
      not to take note of her ruses.

      She is whole and yet always unfinished.
      As she does now she may do forever.

      To each she appears in a unique form.
      She hides amid a thousand names and terms,
      and is always the same.

      She has brought me here, she will lead me away.
      I trust myself to her. She may do as she will with me.
      She will not hate her work. It is not I who have spoken of her.
      No, what is true and what is false, all this she has spoken.
      Hers is the blame, hers the glory.

      – Goethe

      January 19, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name*sunnierdays

      Marlin.....you mentioned God...see how great he is !!!

      January 19, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      You people are always one way about this stuff.
      He didnt cause it, but he saved the people....wow. EVEN if you want to caulk it up to a devil, god created the devil...so technically its his fault.

      January 19, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kite flyer

      Brazil is a better investment than China. They had much less problems from their flooding than China did.

      January 19, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name*sunnierdays


      You are bright like the star. Continue your ways.
      Let them deal with waste.
      No more to be said

      We have more to learn, more to understand.

      Signing off.
      My heart goes out to all those in Brazil. Australia as well. Never thought peoples prayes would create such a stir. You know I'm kiddin Ellis.

      Waitin for the Bill bash.

      January 19, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Lucke

    What a wonderful luck!!! Like a seven lives of cats!!!

    January 19, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. José Henrique

    In Brazil, there is a flood at 4pm every day...

    January 19, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name*sunnierdays

      Then in due time you should be wiped off the map. There's always tomorrow at the going rate of a thousand per day. Not bad for a non believer. Wishin you LUCK.

      January 19, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. betty

    7 lives – isn't it 9 lives?

    January 19, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Quincy9

      Nah, that's just cats... and then only in cartoons.

      January 19, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ellis

    A lucky man

    January 19, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bulloch

      If he were lucky, wouldn't he have NOT been buried alive to begin with?

      January 19, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Edson

    This 42-year-old man seems to be such a really special person. His mother had problems during his childbirth process and he almost died at birth, and also when he was 18 he had a nearly fatal accident which resulted in a brain traumatism, when he almost died too. On the following day after his miraculous rescue, his father told a TV reporter here in Brazil that it is the third time his son comes to life, for the above reasons I've just mentioned. I think God wants to show people something through this man's life. Gretings from Brazil.

    January 19, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • jmacc77

      or it was just dumbsht luck

      January 19, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • wkh

      no, god wants him dead obviously!

      January 20, 2011 at 1:20 am | Report abuse |
  7. Dan

    On the other hand, his skin must look great!

    January 19, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ellis

    I think all brazilians should take advantage of the free mudd treatment

    January 19, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. PTW Dan

    God is ominipresence. He cares for his people(mankind)

    January 19, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      Yep, enough to let the mudslide happen to begin with right? ugghh.

      January 19, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ellis

    Hey Kevin do you believe in the Devil

    January 19, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tyreal

      I am the devil, do u believe in me?

      January 19, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. kim

    God is trying to tell us something....

    January 19, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Philos0pher

      Yes Allah is most gracious... or is it Yahweh? or Zeus? Perhaps Odin? Thor? Ra? Shiva? Ahura Mazda? But I guess you're an atheist with regards to these gods huh?

      January 19, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • jmacc77

      yes, god is trying to tell us that Phil0sopher is a forum troll.

      January 19, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ellis

    Yes kim he is trying to kill you

    January 19, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Edson

      Ellis, I think you have a stone where it should be located your heart.

      January 19, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      Edson, "I think you have a stone where it should be located your brain"...

      January 19, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name*sunnierdays

      Then he is killing himself.

      Who the heck is kim ? Kimmy K . You sound ell.
      Oh kim the guy ya did about 13 years ago.
      Ya still following her butt .
      Took my course on how to deal with nut jobs. I'm covered.

      January 19, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Line

    Disaster happened for a reason. Don't blame "GOD" for man's ignorant. "GOD" does not force HIMSELF on anyone, it's up to an individual to accept HIM as LORD and SAVIOUR, and yes there is a "GOD" who created you, not your parents...

    January 19, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • @BamBam

      If i had the power to travel in time (it being just as likely as there actually being a god) i would take you back to your birth and make you watch yourself pop out from between your mums legs! Then of course go back and take care of the idiot that invented the bible.

      January 19, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ellis

    Thanks Really

    January 19, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ellis

    These brazilians are all the same they only know how to play stupid soccer

    January 19, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fernanda

      Congratulations for your solidarity. I believe you are a wonderful person.
      In this moment, we need a respect for us.

      January 19, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joao

      What an idiot

      January 19, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
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