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Brazil’s deadly floods blamed on ‘perfect storm’ of meteorological factors

Climate change exacerbated the conditions that left 65 people dead and thousands displaced and homeless in São Paulo state.

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Climate change exacerbated the conditions that left 65 people dead and thousands displaced and homeless in São Paulo state.

ARTICLE BY

PUBLISHED

READING TIME

Less than 1 minute Minutes

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 12:30 am

A dangerous combination of meteorological factors, exacerbated by climate change, was responsible for deadly flooding in Brazil last week, experts have concluded.

Meteorologists told the Folha de São Paolo newspaper that humidity, cyclone winds, and a cold front at São Sebastião came together to cause conditions that led to 65 deaths.

They added that channels of airborne humidity, formed by moisture from the Amazon, were also shifting south under the influence of climate change, causing more extreme rainfall in the coastal areas of São Paulo state.

Brazilian authorities concluded rescue searches Sunday after heavy rains hit the state a week ago, with São Sebastião bearing the brunt. The majority of deaths occurred in the coastal municipality. 

Nearby towns such as Ilhabela, Caraguatatuba, Bertioga and Ubatuba were also heavily affected.

Firefighters, police and volunteers have given hope of finding people alive in the rubble of houses slammed by the landslides. 

Some 1,730 people have been displaced and 1,810 left homeless, according to the São Paulo state government. The homeless are being sheltered in schools, kindergartens and churches in São Sebastiao.

Key roads, such as the Rio de Janeiro-Santos highway, remained blocked due to landslides, the government added.

Government and private aid groups are scrambling to provide aid – with 7.5 tonnes of aid items including food, water and hygiene kits already distributed, the government says – but reaching isolated towns is proving difficult.

The floods in São Paulo state are the latest in a series of such disasters to recently strike Brazil, where poor-quality construction, often on hillsides, can have tragic consequences during the country’s rainy season.

 

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 12:30 am

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