44 dead in Brazil heavy downpours

Landslides are seen after severe rainfall in Sao Sebastiao, Brazil, February 20, 2023. REUTERS

The death toll from heavy rains that devastated coastal areas of Brazil's southeastern Sao Paulo state rose to 44 people, according to a state government statement on Tuesday.

Massive rainfalls over the weekend have caused landslides and flooding in coastal towns in the southeast of the country. Almost 2,500 people are still displaced or homeless, the government said, adding that rescue works are ongoing.

The city of Sao Sebastiao bore the brunt of the human toll, with 43 reported deaths.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva flew over the city alongside cabinet ministers on Monday, pledging to rebuild the town of some 91,000 people by constructing new houses in safer places.

The floods in coastal Sao Paulo state were the latest in a series of such disasters to have recently struck Brazil, where shoddy construction, often on hillsides, has tended to have tragic consequences during the country's rainy season.

Sao Paulo state Governor Tarcisio de Freitas said the Navy would build a field hospital for victims starting Thursday.

"There will be up to 300 beds in the infirmary, with orthopedic, clinical, trauma, and psychiatric professionals," said Freitas.

The deluge happened as tourists thronged to Brazil's beaches during the annual Carnival holiday, likely making the human toll much worse.


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