Torrential rains that have caused floods and mudslides since Tuesday in the region of Recife, in northeastern Brazil, have left at least 79 dead and 56 missings, according to the latest official report published on Sunday.
As of 6 p.m. this Sunday, the number of people who died due to the consequences of the rain is 79, the Civil Defense of Pernambuco State said in a statement, also reporting 56 missing.
The storm caused landslides on hillsides, overflowing rivers, and large torrents of mud that swept away everything in their path.
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Footage released by local authorities on Sunday shows rescuers and volunteers clearing debris in Jardim Monteverde, on the border between Recife and the municipality of Jaboatao dos Guararapes.
Landslide kills 19 people
It is in this region where there are slums that the greatest tragedy occurred on Saturday morning when a landslide killed 19 people.
Eleven of those killed in this landslide were relatives of Luiz Estevao Aguiar, questioned in tears by TV Globo.
“ My sister is dead, my brother-in-law is dead, eleven people in my family are dead […]. It’s difficult. It’s very difficult. I did not expect this. “
Behind him, a chain of people, their feet sunk in the mud, passed buckets of debris rolling down the hill.
Authorities had warned that heavy rain was forecast for Sunday, but the storm finally subsided in the morning.
Between Friday evening and Saturday morning, the volume of precipitation reached 70% of what is normally expected for the whole of May in parts of Pernambuco.
“ Although it has stopped raining, we are expecting heavy rain over the next few days. The first thing to do is therefore to maintain self-protection measures. ”
— A quote from Daniel Ferreira, Minister of Regional Development
Minister Ferreira flew over the disaster area along with other Brazilian officials.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said Sunday morning that he will travel to Recife on Monday.
These are areas of atmospheric disturbance that move from the African continent to the Brazilian coastal region.
“ In other parts of the Atlantic, this instability forms hurricanes, but in northeast Brazil it has the potential to produce lots of rain, including thunderstorms. ”
A quote from Estael Sias, MetSul meteorologist
The images of the last few days recall the tragedy that occurred in February in Petrópolis, in the state of Rio de Janeiro, where 233 people were killed during torrential rains and mudslides.
According to experts, this type of tragedy also results from the topography of the place. The presence of large slums, with homes mostly built illegally in steep risky areas, contributes to the phenomenon.