Severe storm in Brazil: at least 44 dead

AFP, published on Monday January 27, 2020 at 00h59

The violent storm, accompanied by record torrents of water, which hit Thursday in southeast Brazil, killed at least 44 people after heavy flooding and landslides, authorities said on Sunday.

They said Sunday that these exceptional bad weather had also made 19 missing, against 25 previously, twelve wounded and nearly 17,000 displaced in the 58 municipalities of the State of Minas Gerais.

The deceased perished during landslides or during the destruction of houses caused by unprecedented floods and precipitation, affecting since Thursday this state, including its capital Belo Horizonte.

The National Meteorological Institute said it had the highest rainfall since the start of the measurements 110 years ago, although the rains started to decrease on Sunday.

From India, where he was on an official trip, President Jair Bolsonaro assured that his government was doing “everything possible”, although “the affected area is large” and that it is “difficult to rescue all world“.

The Minister of Regional Development, Gustavo Canuto, and the Governor of the State of Minas Gerais, Romeu Zema, flew over the disaster area and announced the granting of immediate aid of 90 million reales (about 22 million dollars) .

Without long-term policies to reduce risks, “we will continue to see this kind of thing over and over again,” said Zema.

But for Audemar Carneiro, a resident of Vila Bernadete near Belo Horizonte, this kind of disaster has never happened before.

“Nothing like this has ever happened here. It was a quiet place,” the 51-year-old told AFP.

The authorities have extended until Friday their alert for risks of new landslides in the Belo Horizonte sector. They also advised those displaced by the mudslides to refrain from returning home for the time being.

Images from local TVs showed landslides, buried houses, uprooted trees and utility poles, flooding rivers and neighborhoods flooded by the storm, which also affected the neighboring states of Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo.

– Failed dike –

Heavy showers over the state of Rio led to the flooding of three rivers which flooded seven cities in the north and northwest. No deaths or injuries have been reported at this stage.

Several roads were cut by the rising waters and dozens of bridges collapsed. According to the G1 news site, a dyke broke down in Monjolos, a rural area in Minas Gerais, causing a stream to overflow which affected several houses without causing any casualties.

On Friday, two children and two adults lost their lives in the collapse of two homes in Ibirite.

Two other people died in the collapse of homes in the Vila Bernardete neighborhood of Belo Horizonte. Four other people died in this city, and one in Contagem.

These bad weather coincided with the first anniversary of the rupture of a mining dam located in Brumadinho in the State of Minas Gerais, which caused a torrent of waste mud of 13 million m3 having swept away everything in its path. This tragedy on January 25, 2019 left 211 dead and 95 missing.

The majority of the victims worked in the Corrego do Feijao mine belonging to the Vale group, the world‘s leading producer of iron ore.

A week ago, six people died from floods and landslides caused by torrential rain in the state of Espirito Santo, in southeast Brazil. More than 3,000 people had to be evacuated, according to official sources.

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