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Earth set to swallow Brazilian city that's home to 70,000 people
Featured Image Credit: SBT News

Earth set to swallow Brazilian city that's home to 70,000 people

Officials in the city have declared a state of 'public calamity'

A Brazilian city is on the brink of being completely swallowed up by the Earth as it battles environmental problems.

Buriticupu, in the northeast of the country, is home to around 73,000 people and is facing a huge problem with gullies forming, which has been made worse by deforestation in the region.

Massive craters, some as deep as 230ft, have appeared and landslides have plagued the area with experts believing the city could be wiped out altogether within 30 or 40 years.

In the two decades since the first crater appeared, seven people have died and around 50 houses have been swallowed up.

Officials in the city say 300 more houses are currently under threat, according to local media.

There are now 26 gullies - known as 'voçorocas', a term which means ‘torn earth’ in the local language - in Buriticupu, which have formed due to years of deforestation in the area coupled with ‘unplanned urban expansion with a faulty water sanitation system’, 20 Minutes reports.

Removing forests can weaken the ground below, which makes it more difficult to absorb excess water; this can lead to water gathering and eroding the land, causing these gullies to crack open over time.

SBT News

According to the Daily Mail, particularly heavy rainfall this year has made the situation even worse.

Last month, the city declared a state of ‘public calamity’, 20 Minutes reported, in the hopes of gaining funding from the state of Maranhao and the federal government to begin containment work in the hopes of limiting damage.

Augusto Carvalho Campos, geographer of the Federal University of Maranhao, told the outlet: “It would be necessary to do containment work, but also to replant trees on the edge of the craters.”

Mayor Joao Carlos Teixeira said the situation is 'complex' and that it 'involves compensating properties, building new housing complexes, drainage services'.

SBT News

But he has reassured locals that ‘drainage and soil consolidation works’ will soon begin.

And such work can’t come soon enough for those living in the area.

Maria dos Santos, 45, who lives near to one of the largest craters in the city, told 20 Minutes: “This crater appeared three years ago. It's scary to live here, but I have no choice, I can't afford to buy a house elsewhere.”

And Celio Roberto of the Maranhao Fire Department warned local media: “The intervention must be both emergency and preventive.

“Otherwise, we will have this process increasing more and more and causing greater damage to the families who reside there.”

Topics: World News, Environment