In northeastern Brazil, at least 79 dead in torrential rains
This photo released by Recife City Hall shows a landslide that destroyed houses in the Ibura neighborhood, in Recife, in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco, on May 28, 2022

The balance sheet continues to increase, irremediably. The heavy rains that Brazil has been experiencing for several days in the region of Recife, capital of Pernambuco, have killed at least 79 people, according to the latest official report. A total of 56 people remain missing, according to this report published by the civil defense of Pernambuco.

During a lull, some 1,200 men, with helicopters and boats, resumed the search for the missing and isolated people on Sunday.

The previous report published by the government reported 56 dead. “There are also 3,957 homeless people”had also specified the civil defense of Pernambuco.

“Although it has stopped raining now, we are expecting heavy rain in the next few days. So the first thing to do is to maintain self-protection measures.”said the Minister of regional development, Daniel Ferreira, during a press conference, which flew over the disaster area in the company of other Brazilian officials.

The rains began in the region on the night of Tuesday May 24 to Wednesday May 25. The most serious accident occurred early on Saturday, when 19 people died in a “significant landslide” in Jardim Monteverde, on the border between Recife and the municipality of Jaboatao dos Guararapes.

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Persistent rains

The storm caused landslides on hillsides, overflowing rivers and large torrents of mud that swept away everything in their path. Videos posted on social media show wide flooded avenues in several municipalities, collapsing houses and landslides. Schools in the city of Recife have been opened to accommodate the homeless.

Residents try to escape flooding in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil, May 28, 2022.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro expressed on Twitter on Saturday his “Condolences and solidarity with the victims of this sad disaster”. He said he had decided to deploy troops from the Ministry of Defense “to help with relief operations and provide the necessary assistance to the families affected”. He said he would travel to Recife on Monday.

Between Friday evening and Saturday morning, rainfall reached 236 millimeters in parts of the Pernambuco capital, according to the town hall. This equates to more than 70 percent of the city’s entire May rainfall forecast.

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Already hundreds of victims during the past year

Over the past year, hundreds of Brazilians have died in floods and landslides caused by heavy rains. In February, more than 230 people were killed in the city of Petropolis, the former capital of the Empire of Brazil in the XIXe century, in the State of Rio de Janeiro (Southeast). Heavy rainfall had turned streets into rushing rivers and caused landslides in hilly poor neighborhoods.

Because a warmer atmosphere is also wetter, global warming increases the risk and intensity of flooding caused by extreme precipitation events. According to experts, this type of tragedy can also be explained by the topography of the area and the presence of large slums, with mostly illegally built dwellings in steep risky areas.

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Le Monde with AP and AFP


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