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

    Sunny you are mistaken about me I believe and my religion is the choosen by God so dont think im a atheist its against my religion im just fooling around with these people

    January 19, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. NoodleHat

    I make my own mud if you know what I mean. It's easier when you don't wear pants. Sometimes I make cake out of it.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Name*sunnierdays

    cricket ... I believe such as you. Nuff said. I believe there is a maker of all living things

    And no dam APE did it!!

    January 19, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ellis

    Its impossible that a tree can grow from earth and give fruit that gives fruit from an explosion(big bang) scientists are so ignorant

    January 19, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cowx

      it actually makes perfect sense. first, the big bang. Then, uneven clumps of hydrogen formed galaxies, then stars formed out of hydrogen. These first stars only lasted a couple million years, then they went suernova. This fused light nuclei into heavier nuclei. This process continued, until our sun was formed. by this time, there were a lot more heavier elements. these elements were orbiting our primitive sun, and formed planets. By random chance, a certain grouping of elements formed a primitive RNA. This RNA self replicated, and over time formed DNA. Then unicellular organisms formed. They elvoved into simple multicellular organism, which got more an more complex, until we got to humans nowadays. This is called science, its not stupid, it makes more sense than some 'magic man in the sky' just creating everything.

      January 19, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mike

    Yes, God let a disaster occur that killed 1,000 people. He also allowed His Son to be nailed to a cross for your sins. God also allows you the choice to deny Jesus as your lord and Savior. People want God to step in when its conveinant for them. Why did this guy survive when others didn't? We may never know why. You and many others may not be ok with that, but I am. The truth is that we all are going to die some day. Unless we plan on suicide, we don't know when or how are life here on earth will end. The truth is that when our life here is over isn't the end of our life.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. marlin

    Hello mike do u believe the true gospel that gives u a new life with victory over sin

    January 19, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. marlin

    Mr pilosopher u need to do a heart check. I know u have a heap of hidden sin in your life. When u come clean the burden will b lifted and u will find that your heart can actually love others

    January 19, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. marlin

    The preaching of the cross is foolishness to them who perish but unto us who r saved it is the power of GoD. Amen?

    January 19, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. marlin

    If there is not a God why do people who r unexpectedly flipped upside down and hung in middair instantly reach out to grab for something to cling to? Big bangs make things blow apart and I can't find any half evolved monkeys swinging around any trees. Still looking 4 your missing link Jesus

    January 19, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Meh

      Speaking of ignorance...

      January 19, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. john

    Look first of all god isnt real hes a damn image number 2 brazil is the tbest and if anyone deserves to die iss those damn amercans who think soccer sux nah on second thought they should all die for sucking usa sux usa sux usa sux

    January 19, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. tonya

    here is how i see it: if you believe in god, awesome. If you do not, then that is your personal decision. The point is, this guy lived, and that is all that matters.

    January 19, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. marlin

    Cowx seems to have been reading a sci-fi book that he deems as truth did I say TRUTH!!!!? Why is anyone even trying to figure out where everything came from? I think in every mans breast is a quest 4 truth. God will deliver those who r honest anyone who will come to the end of their own ideology and believe that he is. And the creator of all things that exist ///// even time is explained with the Son of God. B.c. Means before Christ

    January 19, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cowx

      its not 'sci-fi, it's what happened. not to mention, you are also going by some book you consider 'truth'. The Bible is a load of crap written by a bunch of idiots a long time ago.

      January 19, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. The one and only Tiara

    Y'all trippn the man is blessed to be alive. Since everybody has diffrent views of life and God I would suggest you all just keep that kind of talk to yourselves. All it causes are arguments so please just be thankful that the man is alive and move on.

    January 19, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. craig smith

    U people need to get a life.if it was some of your family or friend's that had that happen to them you would not be so damn pathetic!!!!!!!

    January 19, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. craig smith

    Some people!!!

    January 19, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
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