by Louis GENOT / Florian PLAUCHEUR
PETROPOLIS, Brazil (AFP) — Rescue staff raced in opposition to the clock Wednesday trying to find any remaining survivors amongst mud and wreckage after devastating flash floods and landslides hit the picturesque Brazilian metropolis of Petropolis, killing not less than 94 folks.
Streets have been changed into torrential rivers and homes swept away Tuesday when heavy storms dumped a month’s price of rain in three hours on the scenic vacationer city within the hills north of Rio de Janeiro.
With 35 folks nonetheless reported lacking, fears that the loss of life toll might climb additional despatched firefighters and volunteers scrambling by the stays of homes washed away in torrents of mud, lots of them in impoverished hillside slums.
It’s the newest in a collection of lethal storms to hit Brazil prior to now three months, which consultants say are being made worse by local weather change.
The state authorities stated not less than 24 folks had been rescued alive, because it reported the most recent loss of life toll Wednesday night.
Utilizing canines, excavators and helicopters, rescue staff have been urgently trying to find extra earlier than it was too late, with the Rio Public Prosecutor’s workplace reporting that the 35 lacking folks had been registered on its lacking individuals checklist.
Round 300 folks have been being housed in shelters, principally in faculties, officers stated. Charities referred to as for donations of mattresses, meals, water, clothes and face masks for victims.
Wendel Pio Lourenco, a 24-year-old resident, was strolling by the road with a tv in his arms, heading to a neighborhood church looking for shelter.
He stated he was attempting to save lots of a number of possessions, after spending a sleepless evening serving to seek for victims.
“I discovered a lady who was buried alive,” he stated.
“Everyone seems to be saying it appears like a conflict zone.”
Governor Claudio Castro stated a lot the identical after visiting the scene.
“It appears like a scene from a conflict. It’s unbelievable,” he stated, including that it was the worst rain since 1932.
He praised rescue staff for managing “to save lots of numerous folks earlier than it was too late.”
Movies posted on social media from Tuesday’s rains confirmed streets in Petropolis, the Nineteenth-century summer season capital of the Brazilian empire, fill with violent floods that swept away vehicles, timber and almost all the things else of their paths.
Many outlets have been fully inundated by the rising water, which gushed down the streets of the historic metropolis middle, leaving jumbled piles of overturned vehicles in its wake.
Officers stated greater than 180 firefighters and different rescue staff have been responding to the emergency, aided by 400 troopers despatched in as reinforcements.
Metropolis corridor declared a “state of catastrophe” within the metropolis of 300,000 folks, which sits 68 kilometers (42 miles) north of Rio.
Town council declared three days of mourning for victims.
Petropolis is a well-liked vacation spot for vacationers fleeing the summer season warmth of Rio.
The realm is thought for its leafy streets, stately properties, imperial palace — at the moment a museum — and the pure great thing about the encircling mountains.
Tuesday’s storms dumped 258 millimeters (10 inches) of rain on town in three hours, almost equal to all of the rainfall from the earlier month, the mayor’s workplace stated.
The heaviest downpour had handed, however extra average rain was anticipated to proceed on and off for a number of days, authorities stated.
President Jair Bolsonaro, on an official journey to Russia, stated on Twitter he was retaining abreast of the “tragedy.”
“Thanks to your phrases of solidarity with the folks of Petropolis,” he informed President Vladimir Putin after assembly the Russian chief.
“Might God consolation (the victims’) households.”
Brazil has been swept by heavy rains since December which have prompted a collection of lethal floods and landslides.
Specialists say wet season downpours are being augmented by La Nina — the cyclical cooling of the Pacific Ocean — and by the influence of local weather change.
As a result of a hotter environment holds extra water, international warming will increase the chance and depth of flooding from excessive rainfall.
Final month, torrential rain triggered floods and landslides that killed not less than 28 folks in southeastern Brazil, principally in Sao Paulo state.
There have additionally been heavy rains within the northeastern state of Bahia, the place 24 folks died in December.
Petropolis and the encircling area have been beforehand hit by extreme storms in January 2011, when greater than 900 folks died in flooding and landslides.Brazui
© Agence France-Presse