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. ellis

    You are so dum you say to forget about the bible and youre worried about the infrastructure

    January 19, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name*sunnierdays

      Ellis he is saying since your hate for god is obvious, and known. You don't have to scream it in the streets any louder.

      He also is saying if the infrastructor was monitored and taken care of.... lives could of been saved.

      Yeah guns don't kill the hand that holds it does. So let's place the blame on MAN.

      Ellis, Sille.....YOU're very bitter. Believe alittle more. I have faith in you.

      January 19, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ruxin

      The funny part being that you misspelled the word Dumb.

      January 19, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ellis

    Sunny I believe more than you

    January 19, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Edson

    The Brazilian government is providing houses in a safer place for those who have survived, around 7.000 houses, to be built over the year, besides that, the work of volunteers, the civil defense, federal and state government in sheltering the survivors and cleaning the mudslides are now quick and effective, but our fire brigade says that rescuing people under mud is more complicated than whom is in a hurricane or an earthquake victim, and there are more than 710 dead and more than 15.000 homelessand. The federal goverment is also building a very modern weather forecast device called Tupã, which will be able to monitor and avoid these sort of events in advance. Shame on us they are doing it only now, after so many casualties

    January 19, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ellis

    Fernanda callate

    January 19, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ellis

    Nadie esta hablando de esa estupidez

    January 19, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jo

    iIf you believe in that sort of thing, you'd know the Lord supposedly gave us the bad, so we'd know the good. I cannot abide people with selective memory.

    January 19, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Antonio Garcia

    With the way the World is going today he would of been better off DEAD

    January 19, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • HeIsGod


      January 19, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • HeIsGod


      January 19, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • DUDE

      says u
      if it was aif it was a quick death then ya
      but dont be stupid

      January 19, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ellis

    It wasnt God that gave us the bad it was the devil that tempted the woman and the stupid man that followed the woman

    January 19, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • HeIsGod


      don't be angry for what Adam and Eve did, God has already made away of escape for us through Christ Jesus who is the Mediator between man and God.

      January 19, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. HeIsGod



    I just love it when Atheists fools spew their hate towards those who glory God for this man's rescue. They are indeed the biggest fools on earth as, an ex-atheists & now a born again Christian, said.

    January 19, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • @BamBam

      Nobody likes born again Christians and nice way of calling someone a fool then going on to make spelling mistakes, i didn't know that you were more than one person! Also if you were to give me a single piece of factual evidence of how atheists are fools i would actually give your statement a chance although apparently that is beyond you. There is a reason that on average, Atheists have a higher IQ than people of faith.

      January 19, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ellis

    Antonio estoy de acuerdo contigo

    January 19, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • HeIsGod

      Igualmente te digo a ti, ellis, porque no te quitas la vida, al fin de acabo, estar muerto es mucho mejor, verdad? Que peinsas, que el no queire vivir or que? No seas ignorant y necio/a.

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

    There is no God, never was, never will be. Too many contradictions and false facts in the bible, across religions, etc.. Religion, (i.e. GOD) was born from man to control the masses, period. It started as a form of manipulation and greed, and still continues that way today.

    Some people just need to believe because they need a purpose for their existence. When a human kills another human, religion says they go to hell, lol, what happens when my cat kills a mouse just for fun, it's going to hell, lol what a joke. God is a human invention, and only the naive believe in it.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • HeIsGod

      FINALLY, SOME ONE WITH TRUTH....should you be leading the way for humanity since there is not God?

      ****EYES ROLLING****

      January 19, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • smart

      Ever wonder why they call it faith. You must believe in evolution...yeah, all the facts are straight there....it was made up by one man....people used to think the earth was flat too. Every culture has a creation story all based on a higher power, that should be enough evidence alone to change an athiest's mind, but athiesm is for angry people with no purpose, no calling, and apparently from the looks of these posts,....no intelligence.

      January 19, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • HeIsGod

      @ smart – EXACTLY!!!!!! Atheism is indeed for angry people. The majority of them used to be Christians who were never rooted up in Christ to begin with and back slide. Some were raised to believe in God, but now they denounce Him and hate Him without cause.

      January 19, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |

      Atheists are nerds who need to get laid.

      January 19, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Laura

    Im glad the man is ok. But all this talk about God just makes the believers feel good about themselves.
    I am a Christian that does not believe in the Bible as it was written by humans and humans are fallable.
    I do not believe that Christ arose after dieing on the cross. I believe that someone stole his body to make
    the simple people of the time believe that a miracle happened.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • HeIsGod

      Ha, ha, ha....are you serious Larua???? You are a Christians who doesn't believe in the Word of God? Wow, you are not a Christian, but an anit-Christ. I would hate to think who is leading you astray from God's Living Word and Christ.

      January 19, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ellis

    Marlin you shoud go back to atheism

    January 19, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • HeIsGod

      Such bad advice you are giving marlin, ellis. Atheism is at it's worse right now. With all the hate and bitter life they have and you are trying to recommend her this life?

      SAY NOOOOOOOOOOO TO ATHEISM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      January 19, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ellis

    Hablando es con h imbecil

    January 19, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • HeIsGod

      Pero me entendistes, idiota!!

      January 19, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ellis

    Todos ustedes valen verga hijos de puta

    January 19, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • HeIsGod

      So, asi ves a tu madre como una p*t*?

      January 19, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
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