A lot of people think that most of the rain in Brazil falls in the Amazon rainforest. Why do they call it a rainforest, after all? Well it can rain a lot in the rainforest (and it usually does, throughout the year) but one of the places with the highest levels of precipitation in Brazil is in the Southeast.
It is a strip of land that stretches through parts of the states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro along the coast where the rains are especially intense because they are seasonal.
Unfortunately, it is a densely populated area. So urban sprawl pushes poor people into areas of risk up on hillsides. And rich people build luxury hotels and homes at the foot of the hills to be near the incredible beaches.
The rains of Rio were not kind over the New Year weekend. On New Year’s eve, after hours of steady rainfall, there were mudslides in a popular tourist area on the coast of the state. First a slum in the town of Angra dos Reis (Anchorage of Kings), in a neighborhood called Costa Verde, where the hillside just slipped off and plunged downward into houses.
Then, off the coast, on an island paradise known as Ilha Grande, a small hotel, some summer houses and residences were literally swept into the ocean when the mountain behind and above roared down into the Atlantic.
In the town, it was the Morro da Carioca, a hillside slum, that was hardest hit. On Ilha Grande, at the Enseada do Bananal, the Pousada Sankay and some summer homes on a beach below a hillside, were carried into the ocean along with tons of mud and boulders.
In the Angra dos Reis area the death toll continues to rise. More than a thousand have been left homeless. In the state of Rio de Janeiro, there have been over 60 deaths from the New Year rains.
Three more bodies were found this Monday under tons of mud and debris brought in by landslides caused by torrential rains in Angra dos Reis, a popular tourist destination in Rio de Janeiro.
With this the number of deaths caused by the rains since December 31 in the Brazilian Southeast went up to at least 85.
According to authorities, 72 of these deaths occurred in Rio, 10 in São Paulo and three in Minas Gerais.
The regions most affected are Angra dos Reis, on Rio’s southern coast and Ilha Grande, a beach resort 13 miles from Angra dos Reis. After four days of work, firefighters and rescue crews are still looking for three people missing in Ilha Grande and another one in Angra dos Reis.