Brazil mudslides kill at least 94, with dozens still missing

TEHRAN, Feb. 17 (MNA) – At least 94 people have died after heavy rains sent devastating mudslides and floods through a mountainous region of Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro state.

Petrópolis, the “imperial city” which was the summer getaway of Brazil’s monarchs in the 19th century, was directly in the path of the deluge when it hit on Tuesday.

The city’s mayor, Rubens Bomtempo, said the number of dead could keep on rising as searchers picked through the wreckage. Twenty-one people had been recovered alive, the Guardian reported.

Rio de Janeiro state governor, Claudio Castro, told reporters in Petrópolis: “The situation is almost like war ... Cars hanging from poles, cars overturned, lots of mud and water.”

Governor Cláudio Castro said that he was mustering all the state government’s heavy machinery to help dig out the buried area. He told journalists that soldiers were already working in the stricken region, which saw about 900 deaths from heavy rainfall in January 2011.

The state fire department said late on Tuesday the area received 25.8cm (just over 10in) of rain within three hours on Tuesday – almost as much as during the previous 30 days combined.

Brazil mudslides kill at least 94, with dozens still missing

Video posted on social media showed cars and houses being dragged away by landslides, and water swirling through Petrópolis and neighboring districts. The Globo television network showed houses buried beneath the mud in areas firefighters had not yet been able to access.

Several streets remained inaccessible on Wednesday as cars and household goods piled up, blocking access to higher parts of the city.

Petrópolis city hall declared three days of mourning. Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who is on a trip to Russia, said on Twitter that he instructed his ministers to deliver immediate support to the afflicted. “May God comforts the family members of the victims,” he wrote.

South-eastern Brazil has been punished with heavy rains since the start of the year, with more than 40 deaths recorded between incidents in Minas Gerais state in early January and São Paulo state later the same month.

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