Rio De Janeiro, Jan 15: The death toll from flooding that destroyed a small town in southeastern Brazil reached 12, as four more bodies were found, authorities said Tuesday.
The flooding in Sao Paulo state’s Itaoca town was sparked by a severe rainstorm that started Sunday, causing the local Palmital River to burst its banks and inundate several neighbourhoods, Xinhua reported.
About 10 percent of residents were forced to leave their homes due to rising flood waters. The surge also collapsed three small dams, making it difficult to access the town.
Authorities said 100 houses were damaged in Itaoca, and another 50 in the neighbouring town of Apiai.
They also warned that the death toll could rise in the next few days as 10 residents remain unaccounted for. Rescue teams are using rescue dogs to search for survivors.
The town has been declared a disaster zone, and Sao Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin, who flew over the devastated town early in the day, said it will be necessary to rebuild Itaoca.
“Our priority now is saving lives and searching for the missing people. The second phase will be rebuilding the town, its bridges, unblocking highways. There are neighbourhoods that are still isolated,” the governor said.
Such summer rainstorms are very common in Brazil, especially in its southeastern and southern regions.
Less than a month ago, in the state of Espirito Santo, the state capital Vitoria was flooded, leaving 20 people dead and thousands homeless.