Rains have kept falling in the Brazilian city of Petropolis in the Brazilian State of Rio de Janeiro, which has affected relief work and taken the death toll up to 136, it was reported Friday, as the number of missing people rose to 213. Some 700 people were still sheltering in schools and churches after being evacuated from their homes.
I saw intense destruction, it is an image of war, we had a perfect notion of the seriousness of what happened here, in Petrópolis, said President Jair Bolsonaro, who flew over the affected area as soon as he arrived back in the country from his official trip to Europe, where he had been on a 3-day tour. His last stop was in Hungary on Thursday.
”We have no way of foreseeing (these phenomena), the population is right in its criticism, there have already been other tragedies here and we hope that they will not happen again, preventive measures are going to be adopted, we are taking emergency measures now, added the head of state.
In 2011 more than 900 died in Petrópolis and other cities in the mountainous region of Rio de Janeiro due to unprecedented floods.
Bolsonaro Friday met with Rio de Janeiro Governor Claudio Castro and Ministers of Regional Development Rogerio Marino and Defense, General Walter Souza Braga Neto, to discuss further relief measures.
Alarm sirens about possible avalanches began to sound early Friday in areas of Petrópolis such as Morro da Oficina, Vila Sao Felipe and in the vicinity of Rua 24 de Maio. By Friday evening, the death toll had reached 136 and the number of missing persons had reached 213.
Commissioner Elen Souto of the Whereabouts Discovery Delegation sent officers to canvass the area in search for neighbors who did not report [any missing] relatives, she explained, while other residents looked with their own tools for family members who had been presumably trapped in the rubble.
Only 30% of the bodies retrieved had been identified by Friday, as some of them are in a state of decomposition” or seriously mutilated, Souto pointed out.
Search efforts were also suspended several times due to additional rains throughout the week out of concerns for the safety of the relief teams, it was reported. Weather forecasts continued to herald more precipitations.
The number of bodies piled up at the local morgue overwhelmed local forensics facilities and some corpses were mistakenly handed over to wrong families, according to media reports.