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More than 100 people are missing or have died in Brazil, the government announced on Sunday, as mudslides and major flooding caused by heavy rains ravaged several urban neighborhoods in the northeast of the country.
It was the fourth major flood in five months, underscoring a lack of urban planning in low-income neighborhoods across much of Brazil, where slums are often built on hillsides prone to collapse. The destruction also comes as scientists begin to wonder if abnormal rain cycles in Latin America’s largest country could be the result of climate change.
By Sunday afternoon, 56 people had died in the northeastern state of Pernambuco and one in the neighboring state of Alagoas, according to a message posted on Twitter by the Federal Civil Protection Service, which is in charge of emergency management. Another 56 people in Pernambuco were missing.
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Between those two states, more than 6,000 people have arrived at government-designated relief points and more than 7,000 are staying with friends or relatives, the Federal Civil Defense Service said.
In a post on Twitter, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said he would arrive in Recife, the hard-hit capital of Pernambuco, on Monday morning.
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“Our government has made available, from the beginning, all means, including the armed forces, to help those who have been affected,” he wrote.
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In late December and early January, dozens of people were killed and tens of thousands displaced when rains hit Bahia state, also in northeast Brazil. At least 18 people died in floods in the southeastern state of Sao Paulo later in January. In February, torrential downpours in the state of Rio de Janeiro killed more than 230 people.
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