At least 36 people lost their lives during Carnival weekend in Brazil’s southeast Sao Paulo state due to flooding and landslides triggered by heavy rains, according to authorities.
The state government reported that at least 35 people died in Sao Sebastiao, with an additional fatality in the town of Ubatuba.
The state civil defence chief warned that more deaths were expected. The disaster left another 228 people homeless, and 338 were evacuated in the coastal region north of Sao Paulo as rescue crews rushed to help those affected.
The amount of people missing or injured was not disclosed.
Sao Paulo state governor Tarcisio de Freitas declared a state of emergency in five coastal towns after touring the area affected by the weather. He freed up approximately $1.5 million for rescue operations.
More than 100 firefighters and soldiers were working on the ground to help those affected, with aid from helicopters.
In Sao Sebastiao, which is located 200 kilometres north of Sao Paulo, a record 60 centimetres of rain fell in 24 hours, causing the situation to become “extremely critical,” according to the town’s mayor. The city is a popular destination for people from Sao Paulo during the pre-Lenten holiday weekend, which had to be cancelled. Carnival events in other locations were also cancelled.
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva promised to visit the area and stated that the government at all levels would work together to “take care of the injured, look for missing people and restore roads, energy, and telecommunications.”
Climate change-fuelled extreme weather events have caused significant damage in Brazil in recent years, with last year’s heavy rains in the city of Petropolis claiming the lives of over 230 people.