Brasília (AFP) – At least 28 people were killed Saturday in Brazil by heavy rains that have been falling for days on the metropolitan region of Recife, capital of the northeastern state of Pernambuco, authorities announced.
“In the past 24 hours, 28 deaths have been recorded,” the Civil Defense said in a statement.
The most dramatic event occurred in the early morning when 19 people died in a major landslide in the community of Jardim Monteverde, on the border between Recife and the municipality of Jaboatao dos Guararapes.
Six others were killed in another landslide in the commune of Camaragibe. Two died in Recife and another in Jaboatao dos Guararapes.
The total death toll in the state since rains began hitting the area on Tuesday evening is now 33.
“Five other deaths had already occurred during Tuesday’s storm,” the statement said, without giving further details.
According to local press, three people were killed by a landslide in Olinda, and a fourth died after falling into a canal, also in Olinda.
The heavy rains also forced nearly 1,000 people to flee their homes due to flooding and landslides.
Videos posted on social networks show wide flooded avenues in several municipalities, collapsing houses and landslides.
Between Friday evening and Saturday morning, the volume of rainfall reached 236 millimeters (nine inches) in parts of the capital of Pernambuco, according to the mayor’s office.
This equates to more than 70% of the forecast for the entire month of May in the city.
The Pernambuco Water and Climate Agency said the situation could worsen as rain will continue for the next 24 hours in the state.
Over the past year, hundreds of Brazilians have died in floods and landslides triggered by torrential rains.
In February, more than 230 people were killed in the city of Petropolis, summer capital of the 19th century Brazilian empire, in the state of Rio de Janeiro.
Heavy rains turned area streets into gushing rivers and caused landslides in poor hillside neighborhoods that virtually wiped out everything in their path.
At the beginning of last month, another 14 people were killed, also by floods and landslides in the state of Rio de Janeiro.
Among the victims were a mother and six of her children, who were buried when a landslide washed away their home, officials said.
Experts say Brazil’s rainy season showers are increased by La Nina – the cyclical cooling of the Pacific Ocean – and by climate change.
Because a warmer atmosphere holds more water, global warming increases the risk and intensity of flooding from extreme rainfall.
© 2022 AFP