Brazil storm toll rises to 186 one week on

Firefighters and volunteers working at the site of a landslide in Petropolis, Brazil, on Feb 19, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - The death toll from flash floods and landslides that hit the Brazilian city of Petropolis has risen to 186, authorities said on Tuesday (Feb 22), one week after torrential rains lashed the tourist town.

Since the storm, rescue workers have searched for victims, digging through the mud and wreckage left by devastating landslides that mainly hit poor hillside communities.

The number of people missing currently stands at 69, a figure that has been falling as victims' bodies are identified and as families separated in the initial chaos manage to reunite.

Police said 33 children were among those killed in the Feb 15 deluge, which dumped a month's worth of rain on the southeastern city in several hours.

More than 850 people who lost their homes or had to evacuate are still being housed in emergency shelters.

Officials are waging a massive clean-up operation to clear the mud, rubble and stranded vehicles strewn around Petropolis, a picturesque city of 300,000 people that was the 19th-century summer capital of the Brazilian empire.

In the past three months, at least 236 people have died in severe storms in Brazil.

Experts say the violent rains are being made worse by climate change.

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