At least 91 dead in Brazil floods and landslides with many more missing

02 06 2022 | 10:22Associated Press

The death toll from floods in north-eastern Brazil could rise to more than 100 after authorities in Pernambuco state confirmed 91 deaths with many more people missing.

Hundreds of state and federal rescue workers would resume searching on Tuesday for 26 people unaccounted for, said officials.

Heavy rains lashed Pernambuco last week, triggering landslides on Friday that wiped away housing in poor neighbourhoods or favelas built on hillsides that are prone to such natural disasters.

On Monday, Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, flew over the affected area of Pernambuco’s capital, Recife, and neighbouring Jaboatao dos Guararapes. Speaking to reporters afterward, he said that landing in the helicopter was not possible due to the soaked soil.

He noted Brazil had recently experienced similar disasters in the mountains above Rio de Janeiro, in southern Bahia state, and in Minas Gerais state.

“Unfortunately, these catastrophes happen in a continent-sized country,” he said. “We’re all obviously sad. We express our sympathy to family members. Our bigger objective is to comfort families and also, with material means, attend to the population.”

The government is moving to make funds available to municipalities that have declared a state of emergency, Daniel Ferreira, the minister of regional development, said at the press conference. He also highlighted a new credit line available to cities afflicted by such disasters.

Experts say climate change contributes to more intense rainfall, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has classified Recife’s metropolitan region as one of the world’s most vulnerable cities. The low-lying metro region is set at the delta of three rivers, features floodplains and a network of dozens of canals and is home to about 4 million people.

In March, Recife became the first Latin American city to sign on for participation in a programme that will create insurance against climate disasters created by a network of local and regional governments and financed by German development bank KfW.

The state’s civil defence authority said the flooding had displaced 5,000 people from their homes, and reinforced its alert about the continuing risk of landslides. Rain has continued, albeit with less intensity.

At least 91 dead in Brazil floods and landslides with many more missing