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Brazil mudslide death toll reaches 105 as dozens still missing

Floods and mudslides swept away homes and cars in the city of Petropolis.

RIO DE JANEIRO state’s government has confirmed 105 deaths from floods and mudslides that swept away homes and cars in the city of Petropolis.

Rubens Bomtempo, mayor of the German-influenced city nestled in the mountains, did not offer an estimate for the number of people missing, with recovery efforts still ongoing.

“We don’t yet know the full scale of this,” Bomtempo said at a news conference yesterday. “It was a hard day, a difficult day.”

Survivors were digging to find loved ones who disappeared after Tuesday’s landslides.

Rio de Janeiro’s public prosecutors’ office said in a statement last night that it had compiled a list of 35 people yet to be located.

Footage posted on social media showed torrents dragging cars and houses through the streets and water swirling through the city.

Yesterday morning, houses were left buried beneath mud while appliances and cars were in piles on the streets.

The state fire department said 25.8cm (just over 10 inches) of rain fell within three hours on Tuesday – almost as much as during the previous 30 days combined.

Rio de Janeiro’s Governor Claudio Castro said in a press conference that the rains were the worst Petropolis has received since 1932.

“No one could predict rain as hard as this,” Castro said. More rain was expected through the rest of the week, according to weather forecasters.

Castro added that almost 400 people were left homeless and 24 people were recovered alive.

Local authorities say more than 180 residents who live in at-risk areas were sheltering in schools. More equipment and manpower was expected to help rescue efforts today.

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro expressed solidarity while on a trip to Russia. Petropolis’ city hall declared three days of mourning for the tragedy.

Southeastern Brazil has been punished with heavy rains since the start of the year, with more than 40 deaths recorded between incidents in Minas Gerais state in early January and Sao Paulo state later the same month.

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