Nine firefighters killed after roof of cave collapses in training drill tragedy

Nine firefighters have been killed during a training operation that went tragically wrong when the roof of a cave collapsed.

A total of 26 firefighters were taking part in an exercise in the cave near the Brazilian city of Altinópolis when tragedy struck yesterday, according to the Sao Paulo fire service.

Following the collapse of the Duas Bocas cave, the service said: “There were nine dead and one person rescued. There are no more victims at the site.”

An earlier report from the Altinópolis mayor’s office said that three of those who had been rescued had suffered fractures and hypothermia.

Rescue teams had rushed to the scene following the accident as they launched a desperate bid to free the trapped firefighters, but heavy rain hampered their efforts.

The threat of further collapses made the rescue operation particularly perilous on the remote site where access was difficult.

Sao Paulo governor Joao Doria said on Twitter: “The firefighters of SP just finished the search work in Altinópolis.

“My condolences to the family and friends of the 9 civil firefighters who lost their lives in this tragedy.”

London Fire Brigade was among those that sent condolences to its counterparts in Brazil, saying in a tweet: "The thoughts of everyone at London Fire Brigade are with the families, friends and colleagues of the Brazilian firefighters who have tragically died during a training exercise in the Duas Bocas cave, north of Sao Paulo.”

While the rescue was ongoing, Cristina Trifoni, the mother of one of the instructors carrying out the training, told GloboNews 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.

The identities of the victims have not been disclosed.

Altinópolis is about 200 miles north of Sao Paulo city, and its caves are a popular tourist attraction.

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