Brazil: death toll from heavy rains rises

Another 26 people are still missing, Civil Defense said on Twitter.

State Governor Paulo Câmara said many more people may be missing.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro spoke to the press after visiting the region on Monday.

“Unfortunately, these disasters happen,” Bolsonaro told a news conference, saying “similar issues” have happened before in other cities hit by heavy flooding.

“We flew over the affected area, tried to land but, on the recommendation of the pilots, we decided not to because of the inconsistency of the ground,” Bolsonaro told reporters.

Since the heavy rains began on Wednesday, nearly 4,000 people have lost their homes, according to CNN Brasil. Fourteen municipalities have declared a state of emergency.

Pernambuco Civil Defense has urged residents of high-risk areas around the city of Recife to seek refuge elsewhere after rain caused landslides there. Schools in Recife have opened to house displaced families.

Brazil’s northeast suffered from unusually high rainfall volumes, officials said. Some areas recorded more rain over a 24-hour period over the weekend than the total volume forecast for May.

Parts of the state got a respite from the rain on Monday as showers moved to the coast, but Pernambuco is expected to get another 30-60mm of rain over the next two days, while isolated areas could see more than 100mm. The region could experience more than half a month of rainfall in just four days, from Saturday over the weekend until the end of Tuesday.

Gusts – which can lead to power outages and falling debris – could also reach 100 km/h.

Lake Mead water levels are well below forecast and could drop another 12 feet in the fall

The weekend downpour triggered Brazil’s fourth major flood in five months, according to a Reuters report, which highlighted a lack of urban planning in low-income neighborhoods across much of the country. Favelas – slums or slums – are often erected on hillsides that are prone to giving way, usually outside major cities.

In December, downpours burst two dams in neighboring Bahia state, killing dozens of people and submerging entire streets.

Câmara, the state governor, said on Twitter that his office has made available 100 million Brazilian reals ($21 million) to help rain-affected areas.

Seven other Brazilian states have offered help and sent rescue teams to Pernambuco, according to CNN Brasil.

The climate crisis is making destructive extreme weather more common around the world. As temperatures rise, the average amount of rain in this part of Brazil is actually expected to decrease, but extreme rain events are expected to occur more frequently and intensely, according to scientific projections released by the Intergovernmental Panel on the evolution of the climate.

This means that parts of Brazil will experience more prolonged droughts as well as more frequent and extreme rainfall, which together will make it more vulnerable to flooding.

Why landslides occur is more complex, but they often occur during heavy rains in areas that have been over-cleared and built up.

CNN Weather’s Robert Shackleford and Monica Garrett contributed to this report. Marcelo Medeiros and Michelle Velez reported from Atlanta, Marcia Reverdosa from Sao Paulo, Mia Alberti from Beirut and Amy Woodyatt from London.


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