Brazil – Deadly Floods and Landslides in Petrópolis, Rio De Janeiro

More than a month’s worth of rain fell in a few hours in the city of Petrópolis in Brazil on 15 February, causing widespread flooding and dozens of landslides.

Floods in Petrópolis, Rio de Janeiro, 15 February 2022. Reproduced from video via Social Media

Climatempo, quoting official figures, said the São Sebastião weather station in Petrópolis recorded 210 mm of rain in 3 hours. The average for the entire month of February is approximately 200 mm.

The situation is still developing and full damage assessments are yet to be completed. As of early 16 February, Brazil’s Civil Defence reported 38 fatalities and 301 people displaced. Civil Defence added that there has been 189 registered landslides and 229 instances of flooding across Petrópolis municipality.

State news agency Agência Brasil reported landslides occurred in neighbourhoods including Quitandinha, Alto da Serra, Castelânea, Centro, Coronel Veiga, Duarte da Silveira, Floresta, Caxambu and Chácara Flora. Severe flooding was also reported in Alto da Serra, Corrêas, Centro and Mosela.

The force of the water left a trail of destruction through the city. Videos and images shared on Social Media showed vehicles dragged through streets and mud, rocks and debris cascading down hillsides close to buildings and residential areas.

State governor Cláudio Castro is visiting affected areas and mayor of Petrópolis, Rubens Bomtempo, swiftly returned from a visit to the capital Brasilia to respond to the emergency. The mayor declared a state of disaster and closed all schools. Hundreds of firefighters and Civil Defence personnel have been deployed to the area. Aircraft, ambulances and military teams have also been made available.

Areas in the north of the state of Rio de Janeiro and across the border with Minas Gerais have also seen heavy rainfall and flooding in recent days.

Petrópolis was among the areas affected by flooding and mudslides in this mountainous region (Serrana) of Rio de Janeiro state that left over 900 people dead in in January 2011. A similar event occurred in 1967 when the death toll was believed to be over 1,700.

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