Heavy rains in northeast Brazil kill at least 35

At least 35 people died amid heavy rains in northeast Brazil on Friday and Saturday, as the rains hit two major cities on the Atlantic coast, in what is the South American country’s fourth-largest flood event in five months.

In Pernambuco state, at least 33 people had died as of Saturday afternoon, when rains triggered landslides that swept urban neighborhoods on the slopes, according to the state’s official Twitter account.

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Another 765 people were forced to leave their homes, at least temporarily, according to the state government.

Authorities in the neighboring state of Alagoas recorded two deaths, according to Brazil’s federal emergency service.

In late December and early January, dozens were killed and tens of thousands displaced as the rains hit the state of Bahia, also located in northeastern Brazil. At least 18 died in floods in the state of São Paulo in late January. In February, torrential rains in the mountains of Rio de Janeiro state killed more than 230.

While much of Brazil spent most of 2021 in a severe drought, exceptionally heavy rains began arriving in the final months of the year.

The often deadly floods that followed sparked debate over the potential role of climate change in Brazil’s volatile weather pattern and drew attention to the country’s often haphazard urban planning.

Many of Friday’s and Saturday’s deaths took place in Pernambuco’s capital, Recife. As in many urban areas in Brazil, many neighborhoods in Recife were built in locations vulnerable to terrain and landslides.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was assembling a federal task force to send to Pernambuco on Saturday, according to local media.

His main opponent in the October presidential elections, leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, lamented the flood on Twitter.

“My solidarity with the families in the metropolitan region of Recife who suffer from the heavy rains”, he wrote.

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Brazil landslides in mountain town kill at least 94, with dozens still missing

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