Brazilian authorities announced Sunday evening that floods and landslides caused by heavy rains killed at least 19 people over the weekend in the state of Sao Paulo.
Footage from the town of San Sebastiao, broadcast on television and circulating on social media, showed entire neighborhoods flooded, homes swept away by soil, submerged highways and cars destroyed by fallen trees, among other damage.
The state government said in a statement that 228 more people have become homeless and 338 people have been evacuated from the coastal area north of Sao Paulo, while rescue crews are working to help those affected by the storm.
The authorities did not give a figure on the number of missing persons.
For his part, Sao Paulo state governor Tarcisio de Freitas declared a state of emergency in five cities along the coast.
San Sebastiao, 200 km north of Sao Paulo and where many of the city’s residents spend the weekend, was one of the hardest hit, with 60 centimeters of rain falling in 24 hours, according to local officials.
“We have not yet quantified the extent of the damage. We are trying to save the victims,” said Mayor Felipe Augusto, describing the situation in the town as “very critical.”
“We are working on about 50 houses that collapsed under the pressure of the water and there are still people inside,” he told Globonenews TV.
More than 100 firefighters are working at the site with the help of helicopters. Military personnel are also involved in helping those affected by the rains.
Extreme weather events fueled by climate change are taking their toll on Brazil. Heavy rains last year in the city of Petropolis killed more than 230 people.