Petrópolis: Deadly landslides wreak havoc in Brazilian city￼
Almost 100 people have died in landslides and flash flooding in the Brazilian city of Petrópolis, officials say.
The city, which is located in the mountains north of Rio de Janeiro, was hit by torrential rainfall.
Houses in hillside neighbourhoods were destroyed and cars swept away as floodwaters raced through the city’s streets.
Search and rescue teams are combing the mud for survivors.
Brazil’s National Civil Defence said on Twitter 24 people had been rescued alive so far, with 94 confirmed deaths. Videos shared on social media showed extensive damage and vehicles floating in the streets.
“The situation is almost like war… Cars hanging from poles, cars overturned, lots of mud and water still,” Rio de Janeiro Governor Claudio Castro told journalists.
With 35 people reported missing, he said that the search and rescue efforts would continue non-stop.
Petrópolis is a popular tourist destination in the hills above Rio de Janeiro which used to be the summer getaway for Brazil’s monarchs in the 19th Century.
But after a month’s worth of rain fell on the city in just three hours, much of its regal charm lay in ruins, with homes and shops destroyed by the flooding.
In one of the worst-hit neighbourhoods, up to 80 houses were hit by landslides.
“The water came very fast and with great force. My loss was 100%. Our life was already tough with the pandemic… and this tragedy still comes,” shopkeeper Henrique Pereira told Reuters news agency.
Around 300 people are being housed in schools and shelters, and charities are calling for donations of mattresses, food, clothing and face masks.
“I found a girl who was buried alive,” Wendel Pio Lourenco, a 24-year-old resident, told the AFP news agency while heading to a local church in search of shelter.
“Everyone is saying it looks like a war zone.”
The city’s mayor has declared a state of emergency and President Jair Bolsonaro, who is on an official trip to Russia, has said he will organise immediate help for the victims.
It is the latest in a series of heavy rains to hit Brazil in the past three months, which scientists say are being made worse by climate change.
Petrópolis and the surrounding region were previously hit by severe storms in January 2011, when more than 900 people died in flooding and landslides.