Rainfall on Tuesday afternoon was above the historical average for the whole of February, according to Rio Civil Defense.
Floodwaters ripped through hillside neighborhoods, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. Brazil’s Civil Defense Secretariat said on Tuesday that 269 landslides had been recorded, CNN affiliate CNN Brasil reported.
On Wednesday, search and rescue teams waded through the mud, scanning the wreckage for survivors. The National Civil Defense said it rescued 24 people, but more than 439 people had lost their homes and rescue efforts were ongoing.
“The work continues and we will do everything possible and impossible to save lives,” Rio de Janeiro state governor Claudio Castro said in a post on Twitter on Wednesday, where he shared updates. day.
Nestled in the hills north of the capital Rio de Janeiro, Petropolis, nicknamed the “imperial city” for its popularity among the Brazilian monarchy in the 19th century, is known for its palatial architecture, grand theaters and museums. On Wednesday, photos and images showed swaths of the majestic city in ruins.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who was in Moscow to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, said on Wednesday he had spoken to ministers and requested that “immediate assistance” be sent to the victims.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), since the 1960s, southern Brazil has seen an increase in both the number of extreme rainfall events and the average amount of precipitation.
This is partly due to natural weather variability, but also due to climate change, as well as aerosols and ozone depletion in the atmosphere.
Average global temperatures are now at least 1.1 degrees Celsius higher than they were before industrialization. According to the IPCC, a warming of 2°C would mean even more intensity and frequency of extreme rainfall events and floods in southern Brazil.
Scientists say the world needs to make deep and sustained reductions in greenhouse gases, primarily by moving away from fossil fuels, to contain global warming to 1.5C.
Brazil has experienced a number of natural disasters in recent months.
In early February, at least 24 people died after heavy rains hit São Paulo, home to Brazil’s financial hub, causing flooding and landslides across Brazil’s southeastern state.
More than 1,546 families have been displaced, according to a statement released by the State Civil Defense, which also said that at least eight children died in the disaster.
And in late December, it was announced that the toll from the floods and heavy rains, which have been ravaging the Brazilian state of Bahia since November, had risen to 20.
The floods also caused the rupture of two dams and the displacement of about 62,800 people, according to state officials.