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News > Brazil

Brazil: Death Toll Rises to 27 After Heavy Rains and Landslides

  • Firefighters search for missing people after a landslide in Morro do Macaco Molhado, Guaruja, Brazil, March 3, 2020.

    Firefighters search for missing people after a landslide in Morro do Macaco Molhado, Guaruja, Brazil, March 3, 2020. | Photo: EFE

Published 5 March 2020

Avalanches of mud and debris became powerful forces that destroyed hundreds of humble homes on hillsides.

The state of Sao Paulo's Civil Defense Thursday reported that heavy rains in the Baixada Santista region have left 27 people dead and 43 missing so far, which led to the declaration of a "public calamity" situation.


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Guaruja city woke up in mourning after registering 22 dead people, including a mother and her baby, three minors, and two firefighters.

"It is a scene of war, death, and destruction," said Paulo Felix, who owns a small business in the Morro do Macaco Molhado, one of the hills most affected by heavy rains.

Landslides caused have swept through everything in their path and hundreds of humble homes have been buried by an immense tide of mud, while trees, and rocks. ​​​​​​​

In the Brazilian municipalities where landslides became powerful destructive forces, appliances, clothing, and other household items are scattered on streets and trails covered in rubble.​​​​​​​

The 'new normal' is heavy rains, floods, landslides, and deaths. On the coast of Sao Paulo, the deaths of Baixada Santista are the new victims of a public abandonment prompted by governments that deny the effects of the climate crisis and the warnings made by science for years.

Until noon on Thursday, the Sao Paulo's municipalities most affected were Guaruja (22 dead and 37 missing persons), Santos (3 dead and 5 missing persons) and Sao Vicente (2 dead and 1 missing person).​​​​​​​

The Civil Defense reported that these municipalities have received 19.5 tons of humanitarian aid material, such as mattresses, clothing, and drinking water.

For their part, community leaders denounce that the ravages caused by the rains are not a novelty, for they are part of an "announced tragedy."

"They say we are living in a risk zone and we should go out. But where could we go?​​​​​​​ They don't offer us a solution," says Simao Pedro, who lives in front of a dozen homes that were destroyed on Tuesday.

The human and material losses associated with extreme weather events are​​​​​​​ a chronic problem in Brazil, a country where poor people have no choice but to build their precarious homes in cheap, insecure lots​​​​​​​.​​​​​​​

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