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Dozens killed after heavy rains in Rio de Janeiro

February 16, 2022

Torrential rains and landslides have killed at least 58 people in a hilly town to the north of the city Rio de Janeiro. Authorities fear the death toll could climb higher.

Rain leaves streets flooded in downtown Rio de Janeiro
The area received as much rain in three hours as it normally gets in 30 daysImage: Jose Lucena/TheNEWS2 via ZUMA Press/picture alliance

At least 58 people have died after heavy rains triggered landslides and floods in a hilly town in the state of Rio de Janeiro, local authorities said on Wednesday.

The Rio de Janeiro Fire Department said more than 180 firefighters were already at Petropolis, searching for survivors in the region.

A post on Twitter showed the dramatic moment firefighters were able to rescue a family who had been trapped on a rooftop. 

The picturesque town, now badly damaged from heavy rains, is just 68 kilometers (42 miles) north of  the city of Rio de Janeiro.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tweeted that he asked his ministers to deliver immediate support to those affected.

"May God comfort the family members of the victims," he wrote. Bolsonaro is currently in Russia on a trip he planned before the Ukraine crisis arose.

What else do we know?

Rio de Janeiro's fire department said the area had received nearly 29 centimeters (just over 10 inches) of rain within three hours during the day.

That's as much rain the region received in the last 30 days combined, officials said.

Petropolis' city hall issued a statement, saying heavy rains had left a "higher number of incidents and victims" and that rescue efforts were underway.

Social media footage showed cars and houses being washed by landslides, and flood water inundating the town of Petropolis and neighboring districts.

Hundreds of people had died in Petropolis because of heavy rains and floods in 2011.

rm/jsi (AP, AFP)