Rescue workers in orange gear and residents searching for missing relatives continue to dig through piles of mud and debris in this southeastern city of 300,000, which Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has described as
a theater of war.
Police added that 165 people remained missing since Tuesday’s storm. Survivors are now unlikely to be extracted from the rubble, authorities said.
The number of missing has fallen as more bodies have been identified and families have found loved ones alive, police say, but the final toll, which continues to climb, remains uncertain.
So far 124 bodies have been identified, including those of 28 children.
The Vatican prays for the dead
Pope Francis sent his condolences on Sunday after his Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican.
I express my closeness to those affected in recent days by natural disastershe said, citing Petropolis
devastated and Madagascar, recently hit by deadly cyclones.
Lord, receive the dead in peace, comfort their family members and support those who offer their helphe added.
The violent thunderstorm that hit Petropolis, located 60 km north of Rio de Janeiro, on Tuesday is the latest in a series of deadly rains to hit Brazil, which experts believe is aggravated by climate change.
Over the past three months, more than 200 people have died in torrential rains, mainly in the states of Sao Paulo (southeast) and Bahia (northeast), as well as in Petropolis.
On Tuesday, torrential rains turned the streets of this tourist town into torrents of mud and caused landslides. Petropolis, the former summer residence of Brazil’s imperial court in the 19th century, received more rain than the average for an entire month of February.
The municipality has already found more than 300 vehicles washed away by the waters,
strewn across the city, blocking streets and sidewalks or thrown into waterwayssaid the mayor’s office.