Brazil landslide death toll rises to at least 44

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Brazil landslide death toll rises to at least 44

Photo: Andre Penner Associated Press Rescue workers were busy in São Sebastião on Monday. “Search and rescue operations continue unabated,” the São Paulo governor's office said on Tuesday.

The search continued on Tuesday in southeastern Brazil to try to find the 38 people missing following the landslides which swept away many houses and whose human toll, now at 44 dead, could still increase. /p>

More than 680 millimeters of rain fell in 24 hours in São Sebastião, a seaside resort located about 200 km from São Paulo, more than twice the monthly rainfall. A national record, according to the government of the State of São Paulo.

This is where 43 deaths have so far been recorded, in addition to that of a little girl further north, in the coastal town of Ubatuba.

“The search and rescue operations rescue operations continue unabated,” the São Paulo governor's office said, noting that 1,730 people had been temporarily evacuated from their homes and 760 were left homeless.

“We don't know what the death toll will be. We may find bodies where we didn't imagine,” Governor Tarcísio de Freitas told AFP after returning from a helicopter flight over the disaster area.

Thirty -eight people are still missing, a figure he said could push the number of people who died in Sunday's deadly mudslides to more than 70.

Adverse weather conditions were hampering search efforts as night fell, with further rain making the ground in the area “very wet and slippery”. And the National Weather Service said downpours would continue in the area throughout the week.

Twenty-five people, including six children, are being treated in hospitals. Seven are in serious condition, according to local authorities, who say nearly 1,000 rescuers, 50 cars and 14 helicopters were dispatched to the scene.

In São Sebastião, a tent was erected for a collective vigil in tribute to the victims, while the population helped each other to clean the mud that invaded the houses that did not give in under the pressure.

In the neighboring town of Juquehy, the inhabitants, still shaken by the storm wiped out during the weekend, were tested Tuesday morning by new landslides. About 80 people fled their homes, but no casualties were reported, authorities said.

'Scene of war'

In Vila Sahy, 40 kilometers from São Sebastião, rescuers cleared tree trunks with chainsaws, cleared huge stones and shoveled mud guided by dogs.

“It's a war scene. We are looking for 13 people,” said Daniel de Oliveira, 21, a rescue officer in the area, who was shoveling mud from the windows of a buried car.

Authorities demanded the evacuation of all non-residents, but the many roads still blocked by landslides require the evacuation of vacationers by boat.

“We couldn't go anywhere anymore. We left the car there and had to come back by boat,” Gabriel Bonavides, a 19-year-old student who was vacationing in a rental house over the long carnival holiday weekend, told AFP. /p>

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who flew over the disaster area on Monday, warned of the dangers of urban constructions located at the foot of hills, such as those washed away in São Sebastião.


Brazil's National Center for Monitoring and Warning of Natural Disasters estimates that 9.5 million people live in areas prone to landslides or floods, many of them in favelas without basic sanitation facilities. base.

Brazil, which is suffering the effects of climate change, is plagued by repeated natural disasters, such as in February 2022, in Petrópolis, in the state of Rio de Janeiro, where more than 230 people died as a result of heavy rains.