Brazil | At least 25 dead in floods and landslides

(Rio de Janeiro) Floods and landslides have killed at least 25 people in southeastern Brazil, where rescuers remain hard at work as the recession reveals scenes of desolation.

Two deaths recorded in Apiaca, in Espirito Santo, raised the toll to 17 deaths in this state on Sunday, according to a press release from Civil Protection and Defense.

But “there are bodies that are found” after the collapse of several houses in the town of Mimoso do Sul, the most affected in this state, said its governor, Renato Casagrande, in an interview broadcast on social networks.

At least 15 people died following the floods in this city of around 25,000 inhabitants, where the situation was described as “chaotic” by Mr. Casagrande.

“I have never seen a flood like this,” Michelly Oliveira, a 37-year-old trader, told the local news site A Gazeta. Without being able to hold back her tears, she said she was grateful to be “still alive”, but mourned the destruction of her shoe store, her source of income.

The governor of the state of Espirito Santo, where 5,200 people were evacuated, described “war” scenarios in towns like Bom Jesus do Norte or Apiacá, also affected by heavy rains.

On Sunday, however, the water level fell after a night with virtually no rain, which allowed rescuers to reach previously inaccessible areas, the governor said on social media.

Overturned cars, mattresses, armchairs, household appliances formed mountains of debris in the streets, in Mimoso do Sul as in other towns in the region.

Aerial images of Mimoso do Sul taken on Saturday and released by firefighters showed entire neighborhoods of the city under water, from which only the roofs of houses emerged.

The storm killed eight people in the neighboring state of Rio de Janeiro between Friday and Saturday, most of them due to landslides in a mountainous region, according to authorities.

The regional government confirmed four deaths in the collapse of a house and a small building in Petrópolis, about 70 kilometers from the state capital.

Risks deemed “very high” of landslides continued on Sunday to frighten the inhabitants of this tourist town, where a storm left 241 dead in February 2022.

Climate change

An AFP team witnessed on Saturday morning the rescue of a little girl who had been buried for sixteen hours under the rubble, and the discovery of her father’s body near her.

“The father heroically protected the little girl with his body and she was saved (…) We are in pain, but grateful for this miracle,” Luis Claudio de Souza, 63, neighbor and owner of the property, told AFP. ‘a neighborhood bar.

Other deaths occurred in Teresópolis, Santa Cruz da Serra and Arraial do Cabo, according to the local government.

Public schools have been converted into shelters, according to an emergency committee set up by the local government and rescue workers.

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva expressed solidarity with the victims’ families and those affected in a message posted on social media on Saturday evening.

Tragedies of this type “are intensifying with climate change,” said the head of state, who highlighted efforts to strengthen disaster prevention and response.

The storm was due to the arrival of a cold front which wreaked havoc mid-week in Rio Grande do Sul (south), then affected Sao Paulo and Rio, before reaching Espírito Santo, explained the meteorologists from the National Institute of Meteorology (Inmet).

Inmet forecasts had anticipated a “severe” storm, particularly in Rio, with precipitation of 200 mm of rain per day between Friday and Sunday.

This volume exceeds the historical average of 141.5 mm estimated for the entire month of March.

Brazil, which is suffering the effects of climate change, is plagued by repeated natural disasters.


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