At least 35 people died in northeastern Brazil amid heavy rain on Friday and Saturday, as torrential rains lashed two major cities on the Atlantic coast, marking the South American country’s fourth major flooding event in five months.
In Pernambuco state, at least 33 people had died as of Saturday afternoon, according to the state’s official Twitter account, as the rains provoked landslides that eroded mountainous urban areas.
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According to the state government, another 765 people were forced to leave their homes, at least temporarily.
Officials in the neighboring state of Alagos have recorded two deaths, according to Brazil’s federal emergency service.
In late December and early January, rain in the state of Bahia, located in northeastern Brazil, killed dozens and displaced thousands. At least 18 were killed in floods in the southeastern state of So Paulo later in January. In February, torrential rains in the mountains of Rio de Janeiro state killed more than 230 people.
While much of Brazil spent much of 2021 in severe drought, unusually intense rains began in the final months of the year.
The often-fatal flooding that followed has sparked debate over the potential role of climate change in Brazil’s unstable weather patterns and focused attention on the country’s often haphazard urban planning.
Many of the deaths on Friday and Saturday took place in Pernambuco, in the state capital, Recife. Like many urban areas in Brazil, many of Recife’s neighborhoods are built on land and in places prone to landslides.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was putting together a federal task force to send to Pernambuco on Saturday, according to local media.
His main rival in October’s presidential election, leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, mourned the flood on Twitter.
“My solidarity with the families in the Recife metropolitan area who are suffering from heavy rains,” he wrote.
Landslide kills at least 94 in Brazilian mountain town, dozens still missing