Search and rescue teams raced to find dozens of missing people after heavy rains ravaged coastal areas in southeastern Brazil’s state of São Paulo as the official death toll rose to 48. Heavy rains have caused landslides and flooding in coastal cities in Brazil’s wealthiest state. Over 600 mm (23.6 inches) of rain has fallen so far. The death toll rose from 46 the day before, the São Paulo state government said in a statement. Rescue efforts continued as firefighters, police and volunteers hoped to find people alive among the rubble of homes destroyed by the landslide. According to the São Paulo state government, 1,730 people have been left homeless. , 1,810 people lost their homes.
The city of São Sebastiao, located about 200km (124.3 miles) from São Paulo, bore the brunt of the human toll, with 47 of the reported deaths. But nearby towns such as Ilhabela, Caraguatatuba, Bertioga, and Ubatuba were also heavily affected. Government and private aid groups were scrambling to provide necessities, but the logistics of reaching the isolated towns were creating difficulties. The homeless are being sheltered in schools, kindergartens, and churches in São Sebastiao. About 7.5 tonnes of aid items including food, water, and hygiene kits have already been distributed to the victims, according to the state government of São Paulo.
But not all aid reaches its intended target as criminals use chaos and loot trucks carrying donations. On Wednesday, a district court granted permission to the state of São Paulo and the city of San Sebastian to force residents from high-risk areas to refuse to relocate as a last resort, the São Paulo state government said. Flooding in the coastal state of São Paulo is the latest in a string of disasters to recently hit Brazil, where poor construction often on slopes can have tragic consequences for the country’s rainy season.