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Brazil: Two dead, dozens missing as landslide hits highway

December 1, 2022

The rescue teams are continuing their search operations amid bad weather with the danger of more landslides. Several people, including the local mayor, have been saved from the mud.

mudslide on a highway and a truck rolled over
The landslide hit the BR-376 highway in the city of Guaratuba on Monday after days of continuous torrential rainsImage: Santa Catarina Fire Department/AFP

At least 30 people were missing after a landslide hit a coastal highway in the Brazilian state of Parana. Two people died while rescue teams were able to pull out six people alive from the mud.

The landslide hit the BR-376 highway in the city of Guaratuba on Monday after days of torrential rains.

Emergency services released images that show a section of the highway also got swept away in the massive smear of mud. About 20 cars and trucks were also swept away, authorities said on Wednesday.

The mayor of the coastal town of Guaratuba was among the six people rescued by the team.

"It was horrible. The mountain just fell on top of us. It swept away every last car. We're only alive by the grace of God," the mayor, Roberto Justus, said in a video posted on social media.

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Rescue operations underway

A rescue team, including 54 firefighters and specialists, is using drones with heat-detecting cameras in their search for survivors. The responders said continuous bad weather and remote location are making their search effort difficult.

"It's hard to know the exact number of victims. A vehicle could have one to five people inside. We're working with an estimate of 30 to 50 people missing," local emergency response chief Manoel Vasco said.

"Fifty-four firefighters have been working non-stop for more than 35 hours," the Parana state security authority said in a statement on Wednesday while also expressing his concerns regarding further landslides. 

The occurrence of deadly landslides is quite frequent in Brazil.

INMET, Brazil's national weather service, issued heavy rain warnings for multiple states.

"The teams are working around the clock," Vasco said on Wednesday. "The situation in the area, which is already at risk, is likely to worsen in the coming days if it continues like this.''

mf/sms (AP, AFP)