Brazil: poorest slums buried under landslides

Endless rain that has been falling on Rio de Janeiro for several days, has caused a series of catastrophic landslides, Caritas Brazil  reports.

According to the latest assessment of the Fire Department of Rio, the death toll  has reached 170: 98 in Niterói, 52 in Rio, and 16 inSão Gonçalo. The other municipalities where there have been deaths are Petropolis, Nilópolis, Paulo de Frontin, and Magee. There are countless homeless and missing.

The government of Rio has decreed three days of official mourning for the dead from the disasters and is considering declaring a state of disaster and emergency in the area. The most serious disasters have been caused by landslides, due to collapse of
houses built in at risk areas. In addition, there are numerous flood plains, especially in the region of Jardim Maravilha.

Caritas of the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro has opened a campaign for the homelessness. All parishes in the Archdiocese are receiving donations, asking for non-perishable food, clothes, and drinking water. Unfortunately, the poor have been left with nothing, particularly those on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro and Niterói area.
On Friday night, according to a statement from the Secretary of Civil Protection, Pedro Machado, a landslide occurred in hill area of Bumba near Niterói, burying about 200 people, just where there was a landfill for garbage in the area. Some 190 firefighters and volunteers of the national security forces were able to rescue 25 survivors from the rubble and recover the bodies of six people who were killed, but it is estimated that there are dozens of corpses on the bottom of the mountain, buried in the mud and debris of the houses.

The Secretary of Health and Civil Defense of Rio, Sergio Cortes, said the search may continue for weeks: "Our initial estimate was 15 days, but the amount of debris makes the job very difficult. We also have a environmental problem. The site of the tragedy is a landfill, and salvage operations cannot be done through manual labor because of the risk of disease."

The Archbishop of the Diocese of Niterói, Archbishop Frei Alano Maria Pena, OP, has ordered a coordination of all the parishes of the diocese to help the homeless, funneling the collection of relief material and other aid towards victims in the parishes of São Lourenço and Nossa Senhora Auxiliadora.

Source: Fides/Caritas

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