Heavy rains in the southeast state of Sao Paulo have caused flooding and landslides, blocking roads and trapping hundreds of tourists traveling for Brazil’s Carnival. Sao Paulo’s governor declared a state of calamity for six cities.
Sao Paulo state authorities confirmed 24 deaths and nearly 600 dislodged or homeless people after heavy rains resulted in landslides and flooding in Brazil’s southeast state on Sunday.
The federal government mobilised several ministries to assist those affected by what experts described as an unprecedented extreme weather event. Sao Paulo state governor Tarcisio de Freitas declared a 180-day state of emergency in six cities.
Sao Sebastiao, one of the hardest hit areas 200km north of Sao Paulo, experienced a record 600 millimetres (23.6 inches) of rain in 24 hours, authorities said. Mayor Felipe Augusto called the situation “extremely critical” and said the priority is to rescue the victims.
Imagens tristes da tragédia aqui em São Sebastião/SP pic.twitter.com/n9yIDl92CH
— Prefeito Felipe Augusto (@prefeitoFA) February 19, 2023
“We have not yet gauged the scale of the damage,” he told Globonews. “We are working at nearly 50 residences that collapsed under the force of the water and there are still people buried.”
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced on Twitter that he will visit the Sao Paulo region on Monday.
The unprecedented flooding came as several cities across the country prepared to welcome millions of Brazilians and international visitors for the world-renowned Carnival parades. According to the Ministry of Tourism, about 15 million tourists were expected to flock to the streets of Sao Paulo alone. São Sebastião and Bertioga’s carnival celebrations have been cancelled as a result of the heavy rains.
Flooding in Brazil are the dominant climate hazard, accounting for more than 50% of the country’s natural disasters.
Natural disasters in Brazil; Graph by Climate Change Knowledge Portal
Several studies found a strong correlation between extreme rainfall and climate change. The 2020 floods in the southeastern Minas Gerais region, which killed more than 50 people and displaced over 90,000, was made 70% more likely by human-induced global warming, a study found. Similarly, flooding of the Parnaíba River in Northeastern Brazil 2018, 2019, and 2020, were made 30% more likely to occur.
Featured image: Wikimedia Commons
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