The carnival in Brazil is overshadowed by severe flooding that has killed dozens. At least 36 people died as a result of flooding and landslides in the state of São Paulo, the authorities said on Sunday (local time). According to the head of Brazilian civil protection, Henguel Pereira, significantly more victims are to be expected. Brazil’s head of state Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva spoke of a “tragedy” and announced his visit to the disaster area.
“Unfortunately, there will be many more deaths,” Brazilian civil defense chief Pereira told the Folha de São Paulo newspaper. In the coastal region north of the metropolis of São Paulo, at least 228 people were made homeless as a result of the flooding, and 338 had to leave their homes. The authorities initially gave no information on the number of injured and missing people. The governor of the state of São Paulo, Tarcísio de Freitas, declared a state of emergency in five cities along the coast.
Laborer was rescued
The coastal city of São Sebastião, where many people from the metropolis of São Paulo, some 200 kilometers away spent the carnival weekend, was particularly hard hit. At least 35 people died here alone, and a little girl died in the town of Ubatuba. According to the authorities, a two-year-old boy and a pregnant woman who was just giving birth were rescued from the mud.
As the mayor of São Sebastião, Felipe Augusto, announced, almost 50 residential buildings in the city collapsed under the weight of the water masses. Those buried under the rubble are still missing. The situation in the city is “extremely” critical, Augusto emphasized.
Carnival celebrations cancelled
In addition to the fire brigade and civil protection, the military police and the army also took part in the disaster operation. The carnival events in São Sebastião and other places have been cancelled.
According to the city administration, 600 millimeters of rain had fallen in São Sebastião within 24 hours. That’s double the amount that typically falls in a full month.
Images released on television and online networks show entire neighborhoods in São Sebastião being submerged and debris being washed away from houses. It also shows flooded highways and cars damaged by fallen trees.
Lula travels to the disaster area
Lula announced on Twitter that he would cancel his vacation and travel to the disaster area on Monday. His government will “take care of the injured, search for the missing and restore roads, energy supply and telecommunications”.
Brazil has recently been hit several times by devastating storms. Last year, more than 230 people died in floods and landslides in the city of Petrópolis in southeastern Brazil. Such extreme weather events are increasing as a result of climate change.