The Hamilton Spectator
Brazil deluge kills 36; search continues for dozens missing
About 50 houses collapsed in Sao Sebastiao due to the landslides
Hundreds of rescuers searched Monday for survivors of landslides and flooding that killed at least 36 people along the coast of Brazil’s southern state of Sao Paulo following a huge weekend downpour.
Worst hit was the city of Sao Sebastiao, where at least 35 were dead. In neighboring Ubatuba a 7year-old girl was killed. The disaster, in an area famous for beaches flanked by mountains, prompted cancellations in many cities of the Carnival festivities now in full swing elsewhere in the country.
Gov. Tarcisio de Freitas told television network Globo that another 40 people were missing. Nearly 800 people were homeless and 1,730 people have been displaced, his state government said in a statement.
Television footage showed flooded homes with only their roofs visible. Residents used small boats to carry items and people to elevated positions.
A woman who gave only her first name, Mailsa, said she and her husband, daughter and grandson only barely escaped when a landslide destroyed her house in the Juquehy municipality of Sao Sebastiao. The house was partially submerged, parts of it fell away and the rest was left precariously perched on the edge of a hill.
“It was very quick. Either you run or you die,” she said. “It’s not possible to take anything, only your life, which is the most important thing.”
Sao Sebastiao Mayor Felipe Augusto said about 50 houses collapsed in the city due to the landslides, and he posted several videos of destruction and search efforts, including one of a baby being rescued by locals lined up on a flooded street.
Precipitation in Sao Sebastiao had surpassed 600 millimeters (23.6 inches) during a 24-hour period over the weekend, among the largest such downpours ever in such a short period in Brazil.
The heavy rain affected water, electricity and phone services, according to a statement from the state government, which posted on Twitter a video showing 30,000 liters of water being transported to Sao Sebastiao. Hygiene kits, blankets, sleeping bags, mattresses and medical supplies have also been sent.