Brazil: Heavy rains, landslides kill nearly 100 in mountain city

Rainfall on Tuesday afternoon alone was more than the historical average for the whole of February, according to the Civil Defense of Rio.

Floodwaters raced through hillside neighborhoods, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. Brazil’s Civil Defense Secretariat said on Tuesday that 269 landslides had been recorded, CNN affiliate CNN Brasil reported.

Search and rescue teams on Wednesday were wading through mud, scanning the wreckage for survivors. The National Civil Defense said it had saved 24 people, but that more than 439 people had lost their homes and rescue efforts were ongoing.

“The work continues and we will do the possible and the impossible to save lives,” Rio de Janeiro state governor, Claudio Castro, said Wednesday in a post on Twitter, where he’s been sharing updates.

Nestled in the hills north of the capital Rio de Janiero, Petropolis, nicknamed the “Imperial City” for its popularity among Brazil’s monarchy in the 19th century, is known for its palatial architecture, grand theaters and museums. On Wednesday, photos and footage showed swathes of the majestic city in ruins.

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who was in Moscow meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin, said Wednesday that he had spoken to ministers and asked for “immediate assistance” to be sent to the victims.

Brazil has seen a number of natural disasters in recent months.

At the beginning of February at least 24 people died after heavy rain battered São Paulo, home to Brazil’s financial center, triggering floods and landslides across the southeastern Brazilian state.

More than 1,546 families were displaced, according to a statement released by the State Civil Defense, which also said that at least eight children died in the disaster.

And at the end of December it was announced that the death toll from floods and heavy rain, which had blighted the Brazilian state of Bahia since November, had risen to 20.

Flooding also caused two dams to burst and the displacement of an estimated 62,800 people, state officials say.

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