Couple and their seven-month-old son crushed to death by collapsing cliff as mum tried to shield her baby

Couple and their seven-month-old son crushed to death by collapsing cliff as mum tried to shield her baby


A COUPLE and their seven-month-old son were crushed to death by a collapsing cliff as the mum desperately tried to shield her baby.

Tragically, the baby was rescued alive but died shortly afterwards from injuries sustained during the coastal landslide in Brazil.

Hugo Pereira, 32, was crushed to death along with his partner, first-time mum, Stella Souza, while visiting a popular tourist beach, say reports.

After a cliff face collapsed at Pipa beach, she was found buried under the rubble hugging her seven-month-old son, whom she had attempted to protect and save.

Witnesses said the family was sitting near the base of the cliff in the northern state of Rio Grande do Norte on Tuesday, November 17, when rocks collapsed on top of them.

The family’s dog, Brisa, also died in the horrific accident.

Local resident, Igor Caetano, who saw the tragedy and tried to help the victims, told G1: “We dug until we found the father, and then we found the mother and child.

"She was hugging (the baby). It appears she instinctively tried to protect her son.

"The adults' injuries were very severe because they took the brunt of the collapse."

Igor, a nautical engineer, said that after the boy was found breathing, a doctor in the vicinity "tried to revive the child. But he couldn’t be saved."

Videos taken moments after the cliff collapse show dozens of people on the beach frantically digging with their bare hands and using wooden sticks to try to rescue the victims.

Parts of the cliff are over 60metres high (196ft).

João Marinho, Stella's cousin, said the family was dead by the time rescuers arrived on the scene.

The fisherman added: “I’m born and raised here and this has always happened because the sea is gradually destroying the cliff more and more.

“When we see tourists sitting in the shadow of the cliffs, we warn them to leave because we know about the risk."

Witnesses shocked by the tragic loss of life said that Hugo was well known to residents as he had settled down in the area to start a family and worked as a hotel manager close to the beach.

Prior to putting down roots, the dad-of-one had spent 2017 travelling the country in a camper van with his dog.

Pedro Holanda, manager of the hotel where Hugo worked, told G1 that his pal was "a special soul".

He added: "Hugo was a spectacular human being, always with a smile on his face, high spirits, he was very happy to be a father.

"He was a very family guy – he loved animals and nature. We are dismayed, and don't understand why all this is happening."

Minister of Tourism, Marcelo Álvaro Antônio, expressed his condolences to relatives and friends of the victims.

He tweeted: "I deeply regret the accident that happened on the beach of Pipa, in Rio Grande do Norte.

"My condolences to the family and friends of the three victims of this tragedy."

Signs near the cliff base warning of the dangers of landslides are constantly washed away by high tide, council officials told reporters.

Communications officer for Tibau do Sul city, Fábio Pinheiro said: “As the tides fill and hit the cliff, its base is being eroded, which makes the upper part more vulnerable to collapse.

"It is not uncommon for part of the rock wall to come loose.”

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