At least 35 people died amid heavy rainfall in North Eastern Brazil over the weekend. Heavy down pours lashed two major cities on the Atlantic coast, in what is the South American nation’s fourth major flooding event in only five months.
According to the Pernambuco state’s official Twitter account, 33 people died on Saturday afternoon as rains provoked landslides that wiped away hillside urban neighbourhoods. As in many urban areas in Brazil, many of Recife’s neighbourhoods have been built in locations vulnerable to land and mudslides.
Over 700 people were forced to evacuate at least temporarily, according to the state government.
Authorities in the neighbouring state of Alagoas had registered two deaths, according to Brazil’s federal emergency service.
Between late December and early January, dozens were killed and tens of thousands displaced when rains hammered Bahia state, also located in North East Brazil. At least 18 died due to flooding in the South Eastern state of Sao Paulo later in January.
Torrential downpours in the mountains of Rio de Janeiro state killed over 230 in February. While much of Brazil spent the majority of 2021 in a severe drought, unusually intense rains arrived in the final months of the year.
The often-deadly flooding that followed has provoked debate over the potential role of climate change in Brazil’s volatile weather pattern and has focused attention on the nation’s often-haphazard urban planning.
Local media reports that Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was putting together a federal task force to send to Pernambuco on Saturday.
His main opponent in an October presidential election, leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, lamented the flooding on Twitter. “My solidarity to the families in the Recife metropolitan area who are suffering from the strong rains,” he wrote.
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