Officials in the Brazilian city of Petrópolis claim more than 100 people have died as a result of landslides and flash flooding.
The city, which is located in the highlands to the north of Rio de Janeiro, was flooded.
Floodwaters surged through the city’s streets, destroying homes in hillside neighbourhoods and sweeping automobiles away. Search and rescue personnel are looking for survivors in the muck.
By Wednesday night local time, 24 individuals had been evacuated alive, according to Brazil’s National Civil Defence. Social media videos revealed considerable destruction and automobiles floating across the streets.
“The situation is almost like war… Cars hanging from poles, cars overturned, lots of mud and water still,” Rio de Janeiro Governor Cláudio Castro told reporters.
He said the search and rescue activities will go on indefinitely because more than 30 persons had gone missing.
Petrópolis is a prominent tourist site in the hills above Rio de Janeiro that was formerly the summer retreat of Brazil’s emperors.
But, when a month’s worth of rain poured in three hours – the city’s highest downpour since 1932, according to Governor Castro – much of the city’s regal splendor was lost, with houses and stores ruined by the water.
Landslides destroyed up to 80 homes in one of the worst-affected areas.
“The water poured in really quickly and with a lot of power. It was a complete loss for me. With the epidemic, our lives were already difficult… and now this catastrophe has struck again “Henrique Pereira, a merchant, said the Reuters news agency.
Around 300 individuals are being kept in schools and shelters, with charity requesting beds, food, clothes, and face masks.
“I found a girl who was buried alive,” Wendel Pio Lourenco, a 24-year-old local, told the AFP news agency as he sought refuge in a nearby church. “Everyone is saying it looks like a war zone.”
It’s the latest in a string of severe rains that have pounded Brazil in recent months, with scientists claiming that climate change is exacerbating the problem.
In January 2011, strong storms devastated Petrópolis and the surrounding region, killing over 900 people due to floods and landslides.