At least 36 people dead as Brazil rains cause calamity

AFP

Heavy rains in coastal areas of Brazil's southeast have caused flooding and landslides that killed 36 people and dislodged hundreds of others, according to a statement from Sao Paulo state authorities.

Rescue workers continue to look for victims, reconnect isolated communities and clear roads, some of which remain blocked, trapping an undetermined number of tourists who travelled for Brazil's Carnival celebrations.

Weather forecasts show heavy rains will continue in Sao Paulo's coastal area, challenging civil defence and fire department rescue teams and raising the prospect of a higher death toll.

The federal government determined the mobilisation of several ministries to assist victims, restore infrastructure and start reconstruction work. Sao Paulo state declared a 180-day state of calamity for six cities after what experts described as an unprecedented, extreme weather event.

On Monday, Sao Paulo Governor Tarcisio de Freitas will meet federal officials as they coordinate the response to the tragedy, the statement said.

Operations at the port of Santos, Latin America's largest, were interrupted amid wind gusts exceeding 55 kpm and waves over one meter high on Saturday, according to a local news outlet.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was spending carnival in Bahia state in Brazil's northeast, is set to visit the main affected areas on Monday, his office said.

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