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At least 16 dead after heavy rains in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro

At least 16 people were reported to be killed in heavy rains and landslides that hit the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro.

Rescuers are searching a wide area in the state, hoping to find survivors.

Once again, the state was devastated by rain and mud. This time the downpours hit coastal cities and the Baixada Fluminense, the second most populous region in the state, after the city of Rio.

The rains also hit the cities of Paraty and Angra dos Reis. Both are popular tourist destinations but are also areas with rural settlements.

Aerial images showed the extent of the damage left behind by floods where the storms turned streets into rivers in several cities on Friday and Saturday – typical of the rainy season, but this year it has been worse.

“The problem is that these rains flood the whole city because of human activities like deforestation and poor garbage disposal. It is obvious,” said a local resident.

The region had received 655 milliliters of rainfall, the highest amount ever recorded in the municipality, local authorities said on Friday.

The latest flash floods and landslides came six weeks after torrential rains killed 233 people in the historical city of Petropolis, also in Rio state.

Experts believe the downpours in Brazil have been triggered by the La Nina phenomenon – the cyclical cooling of the Pacific Ocean- and by the impact of climate change.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Twitter that the federal government was deploying military aircraft to help with the rescue efforts in the state.

According to estimates by Brazilian media, more rain is likely in the Rio de Janeiro area in the coming days.

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