RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil -- A toddler died and at least 16 people were injured when a water main exploded over a Rio de Janeiro neighborhood, flooding the area and destroying cars and property.
A huge torrent of water was blasted up to 65 feet into the air over the Campo Grande area, towards the west of the city, after the pipeline ruptured at around 6 a.m. local time (5 a.m. ET) Tuesday, The Associated Press reported.
Homes and cars were destroyed by the force of the blast and then houses were quickly swamped with up to six-feet of water as the liquid continued to spew out at a rapid rate .
Three-year-old, Isabela Severo dos Santos, was taken to hospital but did not survive after swallowing large amounts of water.
Brazilian media reported she died of cardiac arrest.
The girl’s devastated father, Fernando dos Santos told the Globo newspaper that he saw what happened on television.
“When my brother and I went to see, we knew she had been trapped,” he said.
“The firefighters tried to revive her, but she could not stand….She was a wonderful child.”
Many residents were sleeping at the time of the blast.
"I woke up to hear a very strong noise on the roof,” Agilson Serpa da Silva told the O Povo newspaper.
He added that the walls of his home were destroyed and he was swept to the other side of the street by the force of the water.
Others could be seen climbing onto roofs in a desperate bid to get away from the rapidly rising swells and firefighters used boats to rescue those trapped by the flooding.
The burst pipeline, operated by State Company for Water and Wastewater (Cedae), has now been shut down but large volumes of water are still leaking and continue to flood the neighborhood.
The cause of the accident is still unknown.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
First published July 31 2013, 6:41 AM