By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The amount of rain that has fallen within 24 hour period on Thursday (March 10th) in the metropolitan region of São Paulo, was higher than expected for the entire month. With the rain comes a high potential for flooding and landslides, and so far at least eighteen people have died in the greater São Paulo area.
According to the officials, in landslide deaths there were four victims in Mairiporã, eight in Francisco Morato and two in Itapevi. By drowning, there were two victims in Guarulhos and Cajamar. The state Civil Defense reported two more deaths from floods in Itatiba.
São Paulo governor Geraldo Alckmin was in the cities of Mairiporã and Franco da Rocha yesterday to inspect the areas affected. “We had in the last 24 hours 140-170 mm of rain, equivalent to one whole month. As the ground was already soaked because it has been raining for a long time, there were landslides,” said the governor.
In the city of Mairiporã, overnight, a landslide hit homes in the Parque Náutico neighborhood, which caused partial collapse of buildings and killed four people. In addition, seven people have been rescued by the fire department. The rescue effort remains in search of possible victims buried.
In Francisco Morato during the night, in Jardim Sílvia, there was another landslide, killing eight people and leaving eight injured. In Itapevi, two people were hit by a landslide, they were rescued but died at a local hospital.
In Guarulhos, one person died after being dragged away by flooding. In the city of Cajamar, one person was also swept downstream and died. In Itatiba, two people died as victims of a flood. In São Paulo, four people were injured due to the collapse of a house in Jardim Ângela neighborhood.
According to the Civil Defense, this season 39 people died because of the rains, throughout the state, since the beginning of Operação Verão (Operation Summer), which began on December 1st, 2015 and ends on March 31st of this year. There remain twenty days to the end of the operation.
Throughout the previous year’s operation, from December 2014 to March 2015, a total of 28 people died due to the rains in the greater São Paulo area. Areas in Brazil are subject to floods and landslides due to the climate and terrain, and in many cases homes being built in dangerous positions.
Brazil’s largest natural disaster happened in the mountainous region of the State of Rio de Janeiro, known as Região Serrana, which is particularly vulnerable to landslides and flooding. The area was devastated in January 2011, when landslides killed more than 900 people.