200 people may have been killed in a landslide in a Rio de Janeiro satellite city as rains that started earlier this week continue to saturate the soil of the hilly region home to 12 million people, the state’s civil defense office said on Thursday.
Firefighters estimate that 50 buildings in a shantytown in the city of Niterói, including a daycare center and a church, were buried by mud last night. Assuming there were four people in each structure, 200 people may have died, the civil defense office said. Six bodies have been removed from the rubble, and 300 firefighters and police are working to find any survivors.
Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes said there is a significant danger of more landslides, and urged residents of hillside neighborhoods to evacuate if they think the area may collapse.
“Don’t stay in risky areas, don’t risk your life, don’t wait to see what happens,” Paes told CBN radio. “What happened in Niterói can happen on any hill anywhere in the state.”
Rain that started on the afternoon of April 5 continued Thursday. Flooding and landslides have killed 180 people, not including the latest victims in Niterói, and left 11,500 homeless, according to the civil defense office.
Record rainfall of 288 millimeters on April 6 collapsed the former Brazilian capital city. The government’s Meteorology Office is forecasting more showers in the region Friday.
Rio’s geology, with hundreds of mountains made of rock, covered by a thin layer of soil, and a high tide that swelled dozens of rivers, created a “catastrophe,” Paes said yesterday.
A ferry service connecting Rio and Niterói was suspended because of waves that may reach 5 meters, according to Barcas S/A, the company that operates the ferries.
Schools and universities reopened Thursday after being shut for two days, the city government said. Paes told residents in a radio interview that people should avoid long commutes in the area as some streets remain flooded and blocked by mud.
A Libertadores Cup soccer match between Flamengo and Universidad de Chile was rescheduled for Thursday afternoon at Maracanã soccer stadium, Rio’s Sports Secretariat said. The match, originally scheduled for Wednesday, was canceled because the field at the stadium was damaged and locker rooms were flooded.
Rio’s cleaning and garbage collection company was trying to drain a huge puddle and cleaning piles of mud from Maracanã’s main entrance, GloboNews showed. The stadium, considered one of the largest in the world will host several matches of the 2014 World Cup, which will be held in the flooded city.