Heavy rains in northeastern Brazil: 44 dead, 56 missing

The death toll from torrential rains since Tuesday in the region of Recife, capital of Pernambuco in northeastern Brazil, rose to at least 44 dead on Sunday, while rescuers are trying to find more than 50 missing persons.

“According to the updated information I have, we have registered 44 dead, 56 missing, 25 injured, 3,957 displaced and 533 displaced,” Regional Development Minister Daniel Ferreira told a press conference in Recife.

The latest official report, released on Saturday afternoon, said 34 people have been killed since Wednesday, in addition to more than 1,300 displaced or displaced persons, without estimating the number of missing.

During the lull, about 1,200 men, by helicopter and boat, resumed the search for the missing and isolated on Sunday morning.

The storm caused landslides on the hillsides, rivers overflowed, and great torrents of mud swept away everything in its path.

A photo sent by the Brazilian municipality of Recife shows residents seeing the damage after heavy rain and landslides that hit northeastern Brazil on May 28, 2022 (RECIFE CITY HALL / AFP – Diego NIGRO)

Footage released by local authorities on Sunday shows rescuers and volunteers clearing rubble in Jardim Monteverde, on the border between Recife and the municipality of Japuatao dos Guararapes.

And in this slum area, the biggest tragedy occurred on Saturday morning, when a landslide killed 19 people.

– ‘Eleven people in my family died’ –

Eleven of those killed in this landslide were relatives of Louise Estevao Aguiar, who was interviewed by TV Globo in tears.

“My sister died, my brother-in-law died and 11 people in my family died, it was difficult. It was very difficult. I did not expect this,” said the elderly man who lives in another town.

And behind him, a human chain of people, their feet sunk in the mud, passed over buckets of debris rolling down the hill.

Authorities warned on Saturday that heavy rain was expected for Sunday, but the storm eventually subsided on Sunday morning.

Between Friday evening and Saturday morning, precipitation amounted to 70% of what would normally be expected for the entire month of May in parts of Pernambuco.

“Although the rains have stopped, we expect heavy rains in the coming days. Therefore, the first thing to do is to maintain self-protection measures,” said the minister, who flew over the disaster area with other Brazilian officials.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said, on Sunday morning, that he will fly to Recife on Monday.

A photo sent by the Brazilian municipality of Recife shows rescuers and residents amid the rubble carried by torrential rains and landslides that hit northeastern Brazil, May 28, 2022 (RECIFE CITY HALL / AFP - Diego NIGRO)
A photo sent by the Brazilian municipality of Recife shows rescuers and residents amid the rubble carried by torrential rains and landslides that hit northeastern Brazil, May 28, 2022 (RECIFE CITY HALL / AFP – Diego NIGRO)

Meteorologist Estael Sias of MetSul told AFP that the heavy rains affecting Pernambuco and, to a lesser extent, four other states in the northeast, are caused by a phenomenon typical for this time of year. , the “eastern waves”, that is, the areas of “atmospheric disturbances” that move from the African continent towards the Brazilian coastal region.

“In other areas of the Atlantic, this instability forms hurricanes, but in northeastern Brazil, it is likely to produce a lot of rain including thunderstorms,” ​​he explained.

Weekend photos recall the tragedy that occurred in February in Petropolis, in the state of Rio de Janeiro (southeast), in which 233 people were killed during torrential rains and mudslides.

According to experts, this type of tragedy is also caused by the topography of the places and the presence of large slums with illegally built housing in steep areas.

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