Sixteen people including a 3-year-old girl were injured and 17 homes were destroyed by flooding Tuesday as the result of a burst large-caliber pipe in the aqueduct of a residential area of this Brazilian metropolis, authorities said.
Breakage of the pipe around 6:00 a.m. unleashed a high-pressure jet of water that shot a distance of almost 20 meters (65 feet) and blasted several homes in Campo Grande, a poor neighborhood on Rio de Janeiro's west side.
The stream of 3,000 liters (800 gallons) of water per second knocked down several walls, quickly flooded a whole block of homes, forced residents to run into the street and swept away several vehicles.
Besides completely destroying 17 homes, the accident badly damaged another 16 dwellings and made close to 142 people seek shelter in the homes of family members and at a nearby school, emergency management officials said.
Isabela Severo dos Santos, who lived in one of the hardest-hit buildings, was taken to a nearby hospital alive but with her lungs full of water.
The utility, which took more than an hour to close the pipe, said that a wide region was left without a water supply or electricity during the time it took to repair the pipe.
Soon after the accident, city Mayor Eduardo Paes and Rio de Janeiro state Gov. Sergio Cabral went to Campo Grande to direct the rescue work, but were received with jeers and protests.
Residents say the area is prone to frequent flash floods since authorities asphalted the streets but did not provide an adequate sewage system or water pipes. EFE