Brazil storm death toll rises to 50
Authorities in Brazil said Thursday evening that the death toll from floods and landslides caused by torrential rains in the country's southeast had risen to at least 50, with rescue workers still digging through the rubble.
"The more time passes, the less likely it is that survivors will be found. But we always keep that in mind when we work. "There may be air pockets under the rubble," said emergency official Villas Boas to news site G1.
According to the state government of Sao Paulo, dozens of people are still missing as a result of the disaster.
Last weekend's record storms dumped more than an entire month's worth of rain on the picturesque beach resort town of Sao Sebastiao and the surrounding region in 24 hours, triggering violent floods and landslides that ripped through precariously built hillside communities.
Tarcisio de Freitas, the governor of Sao Paulo, admitted that the official weather warning system had failed to prevent the tragedy.
"We sent 2.6 million text message alerts, but as we saw, that wasn't effective," he explained.
"There will be sirens to warn people in high-risk areas during the next rainy season."
An estimated 9.5 million of Brazil's 215 million people live in flood-prone areas, primarily in impoverished favela neighborhoods.
In recent years, the South American country has been hit by a series of deadly weather disasters, which experts say are likely being exacerbated by climate change.
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