By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The storm that fell in Salvador, the capital of the Northeastern state of Bahia, in the early hours of Monday (April 27th) caused floods and over a hundred landslides across areas of the city. The body of the last person who was missing due to landslides was pulled from the rubble yesterday afternoon (April 28th), bringing the number of deaths to fifteen.
The Civil Defense of Salvador recorded 316 instances of destruction caused by the rains. As of 2:45 PM on Tuesday, the agency had recorded 265 incidents, including 147 landslides, 17 floods and 21 collapses of buildings and walls.
About eighty firefighters participated in the rescue operations in Salvador, which lasted over thirty hours. The victims were buried in a series of landslides after the storm hit the city. Yesterday, the Minister of National Integration, Gilberto Occhi, announced that teams from the national Army will help in the removal of residents of areas affected by rain.
According to a report done by the city of Salvador, ten locations were designated as critical areas. Families who are in these locations, according to the government, need to be removed because there is a risk of landslides.
“We will provide housing for families to move because there is the imminent risk of collapse. Let’s take them to a shelter or provide social rent. There is a resistance of families to move outside of these locations, but we are determined to convince them [to leave],” Occhi said.
Brazil is vulnerable to such landslides as many irregular housing communities are build in un-zoned land, and construction practices are not always resistant to heavy rains. Areas around Rio de Janeiro are also susceptible to such tragedies, and the entire Região Serrana, the mountains north of the city, was devastated by Brazil’s worst ever natural disaster in January 2011, when landslides killed more than 900 people.