Torrential rains wreak havoc Over 100 dead in mud in Brazil

from Sara Gandolfi

Dozens of houses collapse in the favela on the hill of Petropolis, a tourist city 70 km from Rio. Dozens are still missing and the government is sending the army into the rubble

Over a hundred dead and an unknown number of missing under the rubble and mud in Petropolis, Brazil, due to the torrential rains that devastated the city about seventy kilometers from Rio de Janeiro. The most affected area is the Alto da Serra district, located on the hills, not far from the historic center of the city which was the summer residence of Emperor Pedro II of Brazil in the 19th century. A densely populated neighborhood, with modest houses attached to each other, along very narrow and steep streets. Brick and sheet metal houses built mostly without permits on the slopes of the hills: about eighty were engulfed by landslides on Tuesday.

About 500 firefighters work in search of the missing, assisted by the military sent by the government in the rubble and by volunteers. It was the worst rain since 1932, 240mm in just two hours. An absolutely extraordinary event ”, said the governor of Rio, Claudio Castro.

Sara Gandolfi curates the Mondo Capovolto newsletter on Latin America and the Global South. free, to register click here.

Interviewed by the AFP agency, Regina dos Santos Alval, deputy director of the Center for Natural Disaster Monitoring (Cemaden), believes that despite some progress in recent years, Brazil still has a lot to do to reduce the risks associated with natural disasters. There has been progress in monitoring, in issuing alarms, but other aspects need to be improved, with housing policies that reduce the vulnerability of the poorest. We can’t avoid the rain, but we have to limit its impact. According to the scientist, 9.5 million people in Brazil currently live in areas at risk, particularly vulnerable to floods or landslides. Most in the favelas, where there is no sewer system.

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