Death toll from torrential rains in Brazil’s São Paulo climbs to 46
São Paulo, Feb 21 (EFE).- The death toll from heavy rains in the coastal areas of Brazil’s Sao Paulo state rose from 40 to 46 on Tuesday while rescue teams continue searching for the 40 people missing, latest official figures showed.
São Sebastião was the hardest-hit, with 45 deaths reported. More than 680 millimeters of rainfall was recorded in 24 hours in this popular beach city.
The other death was registered in the city of Ubatuba.
Some 2,500 people have been forced to leave their homes and temporarily stay with relatives, in schools or the buildings of civil society organizations.
More than 600 troops are engaged in search and rescue efforts to locate the missing and those stranded in the area.
The authorities have also begun distributing 7.5 tons of humanitarian aid since several areas are without water supply or power or cut off from communication.
On Tuesday, São Paulo’s Gov. Tarcísio de Freitas announced that the navy will set up a field hospital for the victims, with 300 nursing beds and about 20 healthcare workers.
Torrential rains caused floods and landslides in at least six cities along the coast of São Paulo, including São Sebastião, Caraguatatuba, Guarujá, Bertioga, Ilhabela and Ubatuba.
On Sunday, heavy showers were recorded again in Sebastião, Bertioga and Ubatuba, which issued alerts for the risk of new landslides.
De Freitas, who was infrastructure minister under former President Jair Bolsonaro (2019-2022), declared a state of public emergency in those cities to accelerate the release of resources.
The governor said that rescue efforts will continue uninterrupted as long as weather conditions allow.
Many highways have also been severely damaged, including the one connecting the cities of Santos and Rio de Janeiro, making it difficult for rescue teams to reach affected areas.
The catastrophe occurred in the middle of the Carnival festivities, when dozens of tourists travel from the big cities to this region of beautiful beaches in the middle of the Atlantic Forest.
Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva flew over the hardest-hit areas on Monday and promised to reconstruct the homes destroyed or damaged in the region.
He also asked the country’s authorities to stop building in areas considered to be at high risk for floods and landslides.
Storms are common in the southeastern region of Brazil during this time of year.
However, in recent years they have become more intense and destructive. EFE