The death tally from the devastating mudslides and floods that had swept across the mountainous region in the state of Rio de Janeiro has now crossed 78, according to the official reports on Wednesday afternoon.
The city of Petropolis was hit by a deluge on Tuesday and Claudio Castro said that almost 400 people had been rendered homeless because of the storm. Searchers had picked throughout the wreckage and about 21 people could be recovered alive. As per reports, civilians had also joined official recovery efforts to rescue as many people as they could.
The city of Petropolis is a German-influenced town that is named after a former Brazilian emperor located in the mountains above the coastal metropolis for more than 200 years and it had been a refuge for people who wanted to escape the summer heat. Tourists had always been keen to explore the so-called Imperial City. The city was among the country’s first planned cities but its population had grown haphazardly, climbing mountainsides were now being covered with small residences that were packed together. Many of these residences were in areas that were unfit for structures and were rendered vulnerable by deforestation and inadequate drainage by the people.
The stricken mountain region had seen many such catastrophes in recent times, one of them included having caused over 900 deaths. After the devastating catastrophe, the city had been present with a plan to reduce the risks of landslides in the area, but their work in that regard was advancing very slowly. The governor while talking to reporters said that the situation almost seemed like war and that he had mustered all the state government’s heavy machinery in order to dig out the area that was buried.
According to the fire department of the state, late Tuesday, the area had received 25.8 centimetres of rain within 3 hours only which was almost as much as the previous 30 days combined. The civil defence authority of Petropolis said that moderate rain had been expected on Wednesday afternoon and the evening that followed.
Various videos were being posted on social media that showed cars and houses being dragged away the landslides and water could be seen swirling through Petrolpolis and the neighbouring districts as well. By Wednesday, the houses were buried underneath the mud and the appliances including automobiles were being piled on streets where they had been swept the previous night. Some people also made efforts to flee the hillsides.
The city hall of Petropolis has declared three days of mourning. The President of Brazil, Jair Bolsanaro had expressed his solidarity while he was on a trip to Russia to meet with his counterpart, Vladimir Putin. In a press conference in Moscow, he said may God comforted their family members.
Southern Brazil has been getting slammed with heavy rains ever since this year starting with over 40 deaths being recorded between incidents that were reported in Minas Gerais state in early January and the state of Sao Paulo later that month. Due to the heavy storms on Tuesday the streets of Petropolis have turned into torrential rivers. The rainfall that hit the area on Tuesday was more than what was expected for this whole month.