By Mary Carroll, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Two rock slides left twenty homes destroyed and at least 72 people homeless in Nova Friburgo following heavy rains Tuesday (November 13th). The area is still recovering from Brazil’s worst ever natural disaster, in January 2011, that devastated the mountainous region of the State of Rio de Janeiro, known as Região Serrana.
Três Irmãos, a mountainous region in the Conselheiro Paulino district, was particularly affected by the extreme weather. Some 113 mm of rain fell within 24 hours, an amount that would normally be expected over a time span of three weeks.
Geologist Sandra Fernandes da Silva from the Brazilian Geological Service (Serviço Geológico do Brasil) explained that “there is still imminent high risk and it is in no condition for residents to return, because it is not yet possible to start clearing up the areas, since the debris that is down here is serving as a shield and preventing new landslides.”
Werneck de Carvalho, the Secretary of the National Civil Defense, inspected the landslides on Thursday and told Agência Brasil that he was surprised by the severity of the collapse.
Yet, he praised members of the Civil Defense for their efficiency “there is no doubt that the work performed by Civil Defense personnel during the evacuation was key and saved many lives. From the point of view of mobilization and managing to convince residents of the urgency of evacuating their homes.”
In January of this year (2012), heavy rainfall forced some 300 residents to leave their homes in Nova Friburgo, after 135mm (over 5.25 inches) of rain fell in 24 hours – more than half the average forecast rainfall for the whole of January.
The January 2011 disaster saw over 900 dead with hundreds more missing from flooding and mudslides as a result from torrential rains. About 30,000 survivors have been displaced or left homeless across the Região Serrana in Rio State.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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