Brazil floods, landslides during torrential rains kill 48

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At least 48 people were killed in floods and landslides triggered by torrential rains in southeastern Brazil, authorities said Wednesday, updating the death toll as the search for dozens of missing entered the fourth day.

“We currently have a toll of 48 victims. The number of missing stands at 38, which may change,” said Sao Paulo state Governor Tarcisio de Freitas, updating the previous death toll of 46.

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There is little hope of finding more survivors from last weekend’s deadly rains, which turned the popular resort town of Sao Sebastiao and the surrounding area into a disaster zone just as Brazilians celebrated the carnival holiday.

The storms dumped a record 680 millimeters (27 inches) of rain on the coastal town in 24 hours, more than double the average amount for the entire month of February.

Survivors have told harrowing stories of narrowly escaping as their homes were washed away, and families digging frantically through the muck and wreckage to reach trapped relatives.

Around 2,500 people were forced to leave their homes, authorities said.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva toured the disaster zone Monday, promising the federal government’s assistance and urging residents not to rebuild in high-risk areas.

An estimated 9.5 million of Brazil’s 215 million people live in areas at high risk of flooding or landslides -- often impoverished favelas.

The figure is all the more troubling as Brazil faces a surge of weather-related disasters that experts say are likely being made worse by climate change.

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