Morning Chronicle - Torrential rains kill 10 in Brazil

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Torrential rains kill 10 in Brazil
Torrential rains kill 10 in Brazil

Torrential rains kill 10 in Brazil

Torrential rains triggered flash floods and landslides across Brazil's Rio de Janeiro state, killing at least 10 people including eight children, and leaving nine missing, authorities said Saturday.

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Two days of heavy rain have battered a broad swathe of the southeastern state's Atlantic coast, the latest in a series of deadly storms in Brazil that experts say are being aggravated by climate change. More rain is forecast for the region in the coming days.

The victims included a mother and six of her children, who were buried when a landslide swept away their home, officials said.

The new incidents come six weeks after flash floods and landslides killed 233 people in the scenic city of Petropolis, the Brazilian empire's 19th-century summer capital, also in Rio state.

This time, the areas hit hardest included the tourist town of Paraty, a seaside colonial city known for its picturesque cobblestone streets and colorful houses.

Officials there said a landslide in the Ponta Negra neighborhood had killed a mother and six of her children, ages two, five, eight, 10, 15 and 17.

A seventh child was rescued alive and taken to the hospital, where he was in stable condition, they said.

Another four people were injured, while 219 families' homes were hit by flooding or other damage, Paraty officials said.

Two more children were killed in the city of Angra dos Reis, where officials declared a "maximum alert" after landslides destroyed at least four homes in the Monsuaba neighborhood.

Emergency workers recovered the bodies of two victims from the wreckage, a girl aged about four and a boy aged about 11, officials said.

Five people were rescued alive, while another nine remain missing, they said.

In Mesquita, 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Rio de Janeiro city, a 38-year-old man was electrocuted trying to help another person escape the flooding, officials and media reports said.

- Record rains -

The storms turned streets into rivers in several cities Friday night, including Rio, the state capital, sweeping up cars and triggering landslides -- a frequent tragedy in the rainy season, especially in poor hillside communities.

Officials in Angra said the city had received 655 millimeters (26 inches) of rain in 48 hours, "levels never before registered in the municipality."

"The entire emergency response team and professionals from the city government are in the streets helping the population," the city said.

The federal government said it had sent military aircraft to help the rescue effort, and dispatched national disaster response secretary Alexandre Lucas to the state of 17.5 million people.

Experts say rainy season downpours in Brazil are being augmented by La Nina -- the cyclical cooling of the Pacific Ocean -- and by the impact of climate change.

Because a hotter atmosphere holds more water, global warming increases the risk and intensity of flooding from extreme rainfall.

In January, torrential rain triggered floods and landslides that killed at least 28 people in southeastern Brazil, mostly in Sao Paulo state.

There were also heavy rains in the northeastern state of Bahia, where 24 people died in December.