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Death toll from Brazil downpours rises to 46; more rain forecast

São Paulo, Brazil

The death toll from heavy rains that devastated coastal areas of Brazil’s southeastern São Paulo state rose to 46 people on Tuesday, according to officials, with more precipitation expected.

Massive rainfalls over the weekend have caused landslides and flooding in coastal towns in the south-east of the country. Almost 2,500 people are still displaced or homeless, the São Paulo state government said in a statement, adding that rescue work is ongoing.

Volunteers and firefighters work to find victims in one of the landslides sites after severe rainfall at Barra do Sahy in Sao Sebastiao, Brazil, February 21, 2023.

Volunteers and firefighters work to find victims in one of the landslides sites after severe rainfall at Barra do Sahy in São Sebastiao, Brazil, on 21st February, 2023. PICTURE: Reuters/Amanda Perobelli

The city of São Sebastiao bore the brunt of the human toll, with 45 reported deaths. 

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva flew over the city alongside cabinet ministers on Monday, pledging to rebuild the town of some 91,000 people by constructing new houses in safer places. 

More rain is forecast for the city in the coming days. The São Sebastiao government said that by Friday another 200 millimetres of rain are expected to hit the region and warned of further risks of landslides and flooding.

Since the weekend, the coastal area of the country’s wealthiest state was hit by more than 600 millimetres of rain, which the government said was the highest cumulative figure ever in Brazil.

The floods in coastal São Paulo state were the latest in a series of such disasters to have recently struck Brazil, where shoddy construction, often on hillsides, has tended to have tragic consequences during the country’s rainy season. 

São Paulo state Governor Tarcisio de Freitas said the Navy would build a field hospital for victims starting Thursday. 

“There will be up to 300 beds in the infirmary, with orthopedic, clinical, trauma, and psychiatric professionals,” said Freitas.

The deluge happened as tourists thronged to Brazil’s beaches during the annual Carnival holiday, likely making the human toll much worse.


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