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Extremely heavy rains, floods and landslides hit Pernambuco, leaving more than 106 people dead, Brazil

sar mission in pernambuco brazil may 2022

The number of fatalities caused by widespread floods and destructive landslides in the Brazilian northeastern state of Pernambuco since May 23 has risen to 93 on May 31, 2022. There are dozens of people still missing.

Very heavy rains started falling over the states of Pernambuco, Alagoas, and Paraiba on May 23, causing the Tejipió river to break its banks and flood parts of the cities Olinda and Recife, Pernambuco.

Very heavy rains continued falling over the region, particularly over Recife Metropolitan Region, causing floods and destructive landslides in which at least 19 people died and more than 56 went missing by May 29.

In just several hours on Friday and Saturday, May 27 and 28, parts of Pernambuco received 70 percent of the rain they usually get in the entire month of May.1

“We never saw so much rain fall in so little time,” said 60-year-old retiree Mario Guadalupe.

“I saw the landslide happen. First part of the hill gave way, then it was just a tsunami of mud. It nearly took out my house.”

One of the worst events occurred in the Jardim Monte Verde neighborhood, in the southwest part of Recife, where a large landslide inundated a number of houses at the foot of the slope, killing at least 20 people.

“This appears to be a landslide in heavy weathered and denuded residual soil, probably with some element of static liquefaction, judging by the debris and the runout,” Dr. Dave Petley of The Landslides Blog said.

“Once again the deadly cost of urban landslides in Brazil is evident. The country has suffered multiple events of this type over the years, and more will occur in the future.”

By May 31, the number of fatalities rose to 93 but there were still 26 people missing, state authorities said.

At least 6 000 people have lost their homes, mostly in poor neighborhoods and vulnerable favelas.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said that the disaster was unfortunate, adding that similar events had occurred in cities before.

SAR operations continue in 12 points across Recife, while 14 municipalities have declared emergency situations.

Orange alerts for heavy rainfall have been issued for coastal areas from northern Bahia to southern Rio Grande do Norte States, including coastal Alagoas, Pernambuco, and the Paraiba States.

In Pernambuco, moderate to locally heavy rainfall is forecast over eastern areas of the state, including Recife, through June 1.3 

Update (June 1):

The number of fatalities rose to 106 and there are still 10 people missing, the government said on Tuesday, March 31.


1 Bolsonaro views disaster zone from air after deadly Brazil rains – AFP – May 30, 2022

2 Images of the deadly landslides in Recife, Brazil – AGU/The Landslides Blog – May 31, 2022

3 Brazil – landslides and floods – DG ECHO – May 30, 2022

Featured image credit: Corpo de Bombeiros Militar de Pernambuco

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