Deadly landslides wreak havoc in Brazil’s Petropolis

At least 38 people have died in landslides and flash flooding in the Brazilian city of Petrópolis, emergency workers say.

The city, which is located in the mountains north of Rio de Janeiro, was hit by torrential rainfall.

Houses in hillside neighbourhoods were destroyed and cars swept away as floodwaters raced through the city’s streets.

The city’s mayor has declared a state of emergency.

Search and rescue teams are combing the mud for survivors. Videos shared on social media showed extensive damage and vehicles floating in the streets.

President Jair Bolsonaro, who is on an official trip to Russia, has said he will organise immediate help for the victims.

More than 180 soldiers have been deployed and more specialised search teams are expected to arrive later on Wednesday.

In one of the worst hit neighbourhood, 80 houses were estimated to have been damaged by the gushing water.

Petrópolis, once the summer residence of the Brazilian emperor, is a popular tourist destination. But its location means it is also prone to landslides.

The worst incident happened in 2011, when more than 900 people were killed when mudslides hit Petrópolis and neighbouring cities.

Heavy rains since the start of the wet season have killed more than 40 people in Bahia and Minas Gerais states.

One of the worst-hit areas in São Paulo state is Franco da Rocha, where four people died in a landslide and six others were rescued.

Fire fighters and health workers worked around the clock looking for victims in the mud, but local authorities believe up to 14 people are still missing.

The mayor’s office in Franco da Rocha urged people living in areas at risk of flooding to seek shelter with friends and relatives.

Other badly affected parts of the greater São Paulo area include Caieiras, Aruja, Francisco Morato and Embu das Artes.

Storms have also caused damage in a number of areas throughout the state.

Mr Doria said he had authorised 15m reais ($2.8m; £2m) of emergency aid for the affected cities.

The Federal Ministry of Regional Development said it was monitoring the situation.

In recent months, heavy rains have affected other areas of Brazil, leaving dozens dead and thousands displaced, with the north-eastern state of Bahia one of the hardest hit. -BBC

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