By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Six people have been found dead so far after the fierce rainstorm that came down on Rio de Janeiro yesterday, according to officials.
Two of the victims lived in Morro da Babilônia, a favela in Leme.
A third confirmed death was of a man who fell off a motorcycle and was dragged under a parked car in Gávea. According to firefighters, the man was unable to get out from under the vehicle due to the rushing water and drowned.
Two adults and a minor were buried in a car by a mudslide. Firefighters spent hours trying to reach the vehicle, going through mud, rubble and fallen trees.
According to data from Rio Alerta, the city’s meteorological monitoring system, the volume of rain accumulated in only four hours last night was 70 percent higher than expected for the entire month of April in some parts of the city.
Streets in the Zona Sul (Southern Zone) were hit especially hard, with people waiting up to four hours to be rescued from cars and school vans.
Nightly newscasts showed school children being rescued by fire department boats after being trapped inside school vans for more than four hours in Jardim Botânico’s main street.
Warning sirens for possible landslides were triggered in 21 of the 103 communities monitored by the Rio’s Civil Defense department. According to residents, however, at Morro da Babilônia, where two deaths occurred, the alarm was not triggered.
The Mayor of Rio said that the non-triggering of the alarm system at the Leme favela was due to the fact that in that area the amount of rain was lower. He told reporters that in light of the tragedies his administration will revise the protocols for sounding the alarm.
“I am deeply sorry that the Civil Defense has not had the opportunity to go there. There are many houses in Rio that are built in inappropriate areas,” he said.
As a result of the storm, another part of the Tim Maia bicycle path on Niemeyer Avenue collapsed. The incident occurred at around 10 pm when the path was already closed for cyclists. This is the fourth time that a section of the cycle path has collapsed since it opened in January of 2016.
Because the forecast is of more heavy rain today, most public agencies, schools, and universities will not open.