Firefighters were working in the area of a landslide, caused by heavy rains, in the Córrego do Jenipapo neighborhood of the city of Recife (Brazil).
Photo: GENIVAL PAPARAZZI
The torrential rains that have hit the metropolitan region of Recife, capital of Pernambuco, in northeast Brazil, have left at least 34 dead since Tuesday, 29 of them in the last 24 hours, according to the latest report.
“From last Wednesday, until noon this Saturday, 34 deaths were registered in the state,” Civil Defense reported in a statement. The previous part spoke of 33 deaths. Only “in the last 24 hours” at least 29 people died from the fury of the torrential waters that devastated everything in its path and left a trail of destruction.
The most dramatic event occurred early in the morning, when 19 people died in a “large landslide” in the Jardim Monteverde community, on the border between Recife and the municipality of Jaboatao dos Guararapes. Another six lost their lives in another landslide in the municipality of Camaragibe, two died in Recife and another in Jaboatao dos Guararapes.
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On Wednesday, five people had already died, four of them in Olinda: three buried by landslides and one after falling into a canal. The intense rains also left more than 1,300 displaced or homeless.
President Jair Bolsonaro expressed on Twitter his “condolences and solidarity to the victims of this sad disaster” and said that his government will do everything possible “to alleviate that pain.” In addition, he assured that he decided to deploy teams from the Armed Forces at the service of the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Citizenship “to assist in relief operations and provide the necessary assistance to the affected families.”
“The water is rising”
Some videos posted on social networks show wide avenues flooded by fast-flowing rivers in various municipalities, houses collapsing, overflowing rivers and landslides, amid cries of despair.
“The water is rising, we are waiting for rescue,” Lidiane Izidio, a resident of Jaboatao dos Guararapes, who is on the roof of her house, explained to the GloboNews channel, as her property is completely flooded.
The images of that station showed the residents of that municipality collaborating with the rescue forces in the search for the disappeared due to the slide of a hill.
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The governor of Pernambuco, Paulo Cámara, flew over the affected region, in which some 1,200 troops from various bodies work by the piece, with the help of “three helicopters, boats and heavy vehicles.”
Between Friday night and Saturday morning, the volume of rains reached 236 millimeters in some points of the Pernambuco capital, according to the mayor’s office. This is equivalent to more than 70% of the forecast for the entire month of May in the city.
According to meteorologist Estael Sias, from the MetSul agency, the intense rains that affect Pernambuco and, to a lesser extent, four other northeastern states, are the product of a phenomenon typical of this time: the so-called “eastern waves”, areas of “atmospheric disturbance” that move from the African continent to that Brazilian coastal region. “In other areas of the Atlantic this instability forms hurricanes, but in the northeast of Brazil it has the potential for a lot of rain and even electrical storms,” she explained.
The National Institute of Meteorology (Inmet) maintains a “red alert” for Sunday for Pernambuco, the maximum risk of floods and landslides, given the “high levels of rain” forecast for the next few hours.
The images of this Saturday evoke the tragedy that occurred in Petrópolis in February, when 233 people died due to torrential rains and landslides.
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