At least 35 people have been killed by torrential rains in Brazil’s northeastern state of Pernambuco as downpours battered two major cities on the Atlantic coast.
In what is the South American nation’s fourth major flood in five months, 19 people died on the border between the state capital Recife and the municipality of Jaboatao dos Guararapes in a major landslide in the community of Garden Monteverde.
Expressing his “sorrow and solidarity with the victims of this sad disaster”, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said his government would do everything possible “to alleviate the suffering”.
It deployed a federal task force to Pernambuco “to assist with relief operations and provide needed assistance to affected families.”
Lamenting the flooding on Twitter, Bolsonaro’s main opponent in the October presidential election, leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said, “My solidarity to the families in the metropolitan area of Recife who are suffering from the heavy rains,” said he wrote.
Brazil’s Civil Defense said in a statement that six more people were killed in another landslide in the municipality of Camaragibe.
According to the Brazilian Federal Emergency Service, authorities in the neighboring state of Alagoas have registered two deaths.
The heavy rains are the product of a typical seasonal phenomenon called “eastern waves” according to meteorologist Estael Sias, of the MetSul agency.
Calling them areas of “atmospheric disturbances” that move from the African continent to the northeast coastal region of Brazil, Sias told AFP news agency: “In other areas of the Atlantic, this instability forms hurricanes, but in northeast Brazil it has the potential for lots of rain and even thunderstorms.”
Torrential downpours in the mountains of Rio de Janeiro state had already killed more than 230 people in February after Brazil spent the majority of 2021 in severe drought.
(With agency contributions)